Press Release
February 25, 2006

Drilon warns GMA: Bill of rights still in effect

Senate President and Liberal Party head Franklin Drilon today warned President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo that the declaration of a State of Emergency did not allow her to suppress civil liberties to silence her critics.

In particular, Drilon condemned the raid conducted by elements of the Philippine National Police-Criminal Investigation and Detection at the editorial office of the Tribune Newspaper in Manila Saturday morning.

This is state harassment pure and simple, Drilon said. The obvious intention is to silence President Arroyos critics.

The police raid at the Tribune is a direct assault in press freedom and this will be condemned not only in the Philippines but in the international community as well, he added.

President Arroyo has succeeded in giving Philippine democracy another big, ugly black eye, said Drilon, who led members of the Liberal Party in criticizing President Arroyos decision to put the country under a State of Emergency last Friday.

Drilon also noted the arrest of Anakpawis Partylist Representative Crispin Beltran, his wife Rosario, and five other companions as well as the failed attempt to arrest Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Satur Ocampo Saturday morning was an indication that President Arroyo was determined to harass and intimidate her political critics.

Last Friday, Drilon explained that the declaration of a State of Emergency did not give the President special powers to suppress the bill of rights.

May I remind the President that the courts are still functioning and the Constitution, including all provisions guaranteeing civil liberties of the Filipino people, is still in affect , Drilon explained.

The declaration of a State of Emergency, Drilon said, was merely the presidents assessment of the situation in the country today.
Policemen reportedly entered the editorial office of the Tribune in Manila around 12:30 a.m. Saturday. There were no more editorial staff members present when the policemen arrived. A radio report said the policemen numbered about 15.

The raiders took copies of the mock-up copy of the paper's Saturday issue and copies of photographs before leaving the office on T.M. Kalaw Street.

A few of the policemen stayed outside the editorial office, saying they wanted to "secure" the place and make sure that everything inside would remain intact.

Tribune publisher Ninez Cacho-Olivarez said in a television interview that she tried to ask the policemen where the materials would be taken.

"Is there no freedom of the press? Is there martial law?" she said. The publisher said she would file a suit at the Supreme Court.

News Latest News Feed