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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

worst woes: constitutional violations of the current government

In the present course of the Philippine political affairs, the Government as represented by the Chief Executive that’s the President is already accused of having perpetuated and continually perpetrating countless constitutional violations against its people. Below are samples of articles and sections embodied in the highest law of the land which have been violated by the Government:
The 1987 Philippine Constitution’s Article III, Bill of Rights, Section 1, mentions that “[n]o person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws.” However, this was violated when Rodolfo “Jun” Lozada, Jr., the ZTE national broadband controversy star witness, was forced to sign an affidavit clearing the First Gentleman from the ZTE scandal as well as confirming that he did not have any talk with any official or politician regarding the aborted broadband deal. While he made corrections and pointed his apprehensions about certain parts of the document, he had no choice but sign it because policemen were threateningly present during the meeting with Atty. Antonio Bautista. The Government is pathetic for having to resort to force in order to get what it wants done or not done. In the process of using this force, Jun Lozada’s liberty to decide freely for himself was violated because he was left with no choice over the matter under the pains of being executed by the authorities who kidnapped him. Also, he was denied equal protection of the laws because the very people he was exposing as corrupt were the ones supposed to uphold the rule of law. In order to save its tarnished reputation, the Government was willing to do all means—bribery, threat to family, among others—to keep Lozada mum over the matter. These numerous violations are considerable terrorist and anti-human rights acts by the Government itself since these consist of an organized and rampant attack against a civilian and being so, are detestable as a crime against humanity not only under the Philippine law but also in international humanitarian law and international human rights law.
Section 2 of the same bill states “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.” The Government violated this by abducting Lozada right after his arrival from Hong Kong where he splurged the money his silence over the ZTE deal was bribed with. It was shown in the airport video grabs that Lozada was whisked away in order to have him sign a document clearing the concerned personalities of any involvement over the ZTE controversy. He was toured circuitously in Laguna province before being brought to Libis where he was enjoined into signing the affidavit in question. This abduction is a clear violation of Lozada’s right never to be arrested without warrant. The government is awful for having resorted to this psychological tactic in order to prevent him from testifying before the Senate. It shows to what extent the Government will make its tentacle work just so its corrupt activities will not be exposed to the public, kidnapping the star witness for purposes of silencing him, for instance.
Section 4 states that “[n]o law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.” However, the Government violated this by having Jun Lozada sign an affidavit that will falsify his current exposés. Like any other citizen, Lozada has the write to express himself freely especially because his speech will expose corrupt dealings by the Government which must never be tolerated. By preempting his exposure with an affidavit that will clear the very people out to silence him, the Government suppresses Lozada’s right to speak just so heads from the Government won’t roll with Lozada’s statements. The Government’s suppression of Lozada’s freedom of expression proves that between individual rights and the Government’s credibility, the former may be readily sacrificed.
Sections 7 or “[t]he right of the people to information on matters of public concern shall be recognized. Access to official records, and to documents and papers pertaining to official acts, transactions, or decisions, as well as to government research data used as basis for policy development, shall be afforded the citizen, subject to such limitations as may be provided by law” is also initially violated by the Government. By trying to gag Lozada in order to save itself from credibility destruction, the Government denies the right of the public from knowing that the taxes they paid for are being spent anomalously instead of being used to generate national development. Also, by advancing political pawns in order to discredit the already controversial Lozada, the Government makes a way for truth to remain hidden, the exposure of which could foment mass opinion and action against the Government. By obscuring the truth to the people, the Government denies the whole nation its freedom to access information. These violations repress the public from their right to know, especially when the knowledge involves something that will incriminate or potentially oust the President.
While there are direct evidences of human rights violations presented via statements of the victims, photos and video documentations, the Government continues to ignore and be indifferent not only to the sacred constitution but also to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law. As signatory, the Government should have the obligation to abide by these instruments. The sustained violations make it appalling that the Government is a part of the UN Human Rights Council. While it has a constitution to abide, the Government disregards the moral grounds it is accountable to regarding the issue of human rights. The shameless arrogance of the Government is a mindset of all human rights violators and the reason behind the perpetuation of extrajudicial killings, forcible disappearances, the dislocations of countless people from their residences, the gagging of the press, the obscurantism being instituted against the public, and other unabated abuses on human rights. The current Government is faulted over the stark political reality that it shuns peace and rejects human rights as instruments in achieving a genuine development for the country.

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