Friday, November 30, 2007

AKBAYAN condemns detention of journalists and civil society leaders, warns govt against launching another crackdown

AKBAYAN Party condemned the arrest and rounding up of journalists and civil society leaders and warned the government today against using the Manila Pen stand-off to launch another crackdown against opposition, saying that it should instead face the issues that led to the stand-off squarely.

"The people will not tolerate another attack on democratic rights. The government is already insinuating that the stand-off is a conspiracy between civil society groups and the Magdalo soldiers, even making this insane accusation that the annual November 30 workers' rallies is part of the stand-off," Deputy minority leader and AKBAYAN Rep. Hontiveros said.

Rep. Hontiveros also condemned the arrest of Bishop Labayen and Fr. Robert Reyes. "The warrant of arrest for the Magdalo soldiers was issued for contempt of court. There was no legal basis to arrest and handcuff Bishop Labayen and Fr. Robert Reyes," Rep. Hontiveros said.

For her part, AKBAYAN Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales said that the detention of journalists and confiscation of their equipments is isolating further an already politically discredited and a morally bankrupt administration. "We have to thank the soldiers and policemen who are detaining journalists and civil society leaders for showing the bankruptcy of the administration. This is bringing together various forces and sectors, making them realize that it depends upon them to change the status quo."

"We will also push for a congressional inquiry on the violation of the rights of journalists who were simply in Manila Peninsula to do their jobs. It is unlawful for the AFP and PNP to detain these journalists and to confiscate the tapes and other properties of the media persons in the area," Rep. Hontiveros added.

Rosales said that the conduct of the assault demonstrated anew the propensity of the GMA administration to resort to draconian measures to stifle dissent.

"GMA mangled our constitution and our laws to evade accountability and accused the Magdalo soldiers of violating the rule of law. Yet the stand-off was a product of the administration violating the rule of law – it resorted to pay-offs to escape allegations of fraud and corruption and it condoned extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to stifle opposition," Rosales said.

She warned the administration from using the stand-off to launch a crackdown against anti-GMA forces.

"She should instead come clean and allow efforts to hold her accountable for allegations of fraud and corruption. Declaring another state of emergency or martial rule would not be tolerated by the people. This has gone too far," Rosales added.

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