Philippines: Lawyers Criticize Arroyo regime

This is from the Manila Tribune. It is not only in Pakistan that lawyers protest against the government. The statements released by the IBP (Integrated Bar of the Philippines) has a good summary of some of the most important charges against the Arroyo govt. However, there are enough paid allies of Arroyo to prevent any successful attempt to impeach or cause the downfall of the government. So far people power--mass protests-- has not worked either. No doubt many people are cynical about people power. After all Arroyo first got into power through people power!

RP lawyers: Make GMA see, feel, hear public anger


Filipino lawyers appear to have had it with President Arroyo and her many scandals and scams that have earned her the tag of “The Most Corrupt President” the Philippines has ever had.

Taking a half-page advertisement in a major daily that was published yesterday, the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), the country’s national organization of lawyers, yesterday strongly condemned what it termed as the “culture of corruption, dishonesty and deceit” that marks the Arroyo government “whose moral fiber has worn thin and whose conscience has vanished.”

The national lawyers group called this state of Arroyo government affairs “abominable.”

The IBP called on the Filipino people to make Mrs. Arroyo feel their anger.

The advertisement, entitled A statement of Concern, slammed the Arroyo administration for its continuing acts of involvement in scandals, scams and controversies, stressing that hers is a “government which has mastered the art of cover-up and manipulation” as it strongly intimated that Mrs. Arroyo’s “constitutional right to lead has been diminished.”

The statement of concern was signed by IBP national president Feliciano Bautista and eight governors, namely, Abelardo Estrada, Ernesto Gonzales Jr., Marcial Magsino, Bonifacio Barandon Jr., Evergisto Escalon, Raymond Jorge Mercado, Ramon Edison Batacan and Carlos Valdez Jr.

The statement read: “The culture of corruption, dishonesty and deceit that pervades our government is abominable.”

The IBP stressed in its statement that it has not forgotten the issues that rocked the nation in the past such as the “anomalous election computerization deals, the agriculture fertilizer funds scam, the Northrail scandal, the Diosdado Macapagal Highway overprice, irregularities during the May 2007 national elections and the aborted NBN deal.”

The statement said that “these controversies clearly show a malignant social gangrene that afflicts the nation’s leadership. Of course, on top of the more prominent irregularities, we are exposed every so often to news of smuggling, extra-judicial killings and forced disappearances, and ghost projects in government agencies.”

The group of lawyers also scored the “huge amounts of money” distributed to legislative and local officials right inside the halls of Malacañang Palace.”

The lawyers deplored the fact that when the Filipino people asked for answers, all they got was a “flimsy and belated explanation peddled by Malacañang’s spin doctors that were untrue, unbelievable and utterly insulting to anyone with a functioning brain.”

The IBP added that these are the types of incidents that dishearten a citizenry regularly fed with reports of a supposedly improving economy which the IBP said cannot be felt.

“When we vote, there is a lingering suspicion that our collective voice will be subverted. When we pay our taxes, there is frustration that our hard-earned money will not be used to pave our roads and improve social services.

“And now the clincher. Results of a recent opinion poll show that many Filipinos perceive the present administration to be the most corrupt in recent history. This does not raise eyebrows anymore, because deep inside, many of us believe it to be true,” the statement read.

The IBP also “strongly” condemned “these continuing acts of a government whose moral fiber has worn thin and whose conscience has seemingly vanished. A government which has mastered the art of cover-up and manipulation finds its constitutional right to lead diminished. It betrays the people’s trust when it thrives not on good governance but on sustained corruption.”

Broadly hinting that the people must move against the Arroyo government, the IBP statement said: “We need to act now. We challenge the Filipino citizenry to channel (its) rightful indignation and disappointment into legal means of expression.

“We lament Congress’ move of killing the most recent impeachment complaint.”

Appealing to the members of Congress, the IBP said: “Dear congressmen, please act on what is right, not when the price is right. As for our senators, we admonish you to continue your probes on government anomalies and questionable transaction.

“We are now all witness to a government that dampens our hopes and fails to positively inspire; a government which shamefully pampers the already rich and powerful and pays mere lip service to the interest of millions who are impoverished.

“It is but proper that we let a government like this see, hear and feel our growing anger.”

This is the first time that the IBP has issued a very strong statement against the Arroyo government, even as the statement reflects the issues that continue to hound the Arroyo presidency, such as Mrs. Arroyo’s legitimacy issue, first challenged before the high court, as she ascended to Malacañang and political power through a power grab while she and her civil society mounted a coup d’etat against the then sitting constitutional president, Joseph Estrada.

The legitimacy issue surfaced even more resoundingly in 2005, after the infamous “Hello Garci” tapes, which held teh incriminating conversations between Mrs. Arroyo and then Comelec commissioner Virgilio Garcillano, where the vote rigging operations, through the vote shaving, vote padding scheme to ensure her fraudulent victory in 2004, were exposed.

Scandal after scandal have rocked the Arroyo government which has moved to stonewall all probes into these scams and controversies.

In the P3 billion fertilizer fund scam, it was reported that Mrs. Arroyo and her aides ensured the protection of former Agriculture Under-secretary Jocelyn “Joc-Joc” Bolante and in the same fashion, was said to have spirited him away as Garcillano was spirited away by the Arroyo government, to keep them out of the Senate’s reach.

The IBP lamented that the people are now all witness to a government that “dampens our hopes to positively inspire, a government which shamefully pampers the already rich and powerful and pays mere lip service to the interest of millions who are now impoverished.”

The IBP, in calling on the people to let their anger be seen, felt and heard by Mrs. Arroyo and her aides, appear to be urging the Filipino people to go into street demonstrations, in the same way people did in 1986, in the Edsa 1 revolt.

IBP leaders also said it is ready to mount street protests to express the “growing anger” of lawyers over controversies pestering the Arroyo’s administration.


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