Press Release
February 28, 2006

Proclamation 1017 betrays strong republic

Sen. Mar Roxas yesterday said called on the government to immediately revoke Proclamation No. 1017, saying it betrays its own vision of a strong republic and directly attack Philippine democracy.

A strong republic is not a bully that will remove the rights of its people or intimidates its citizens, but it should be a government that will serve as a balancer of the inequities that life gives to ordinary people, he said.

Roxas, chairman of the Senate Committee on Economic Affairs, said the government should instead use an iron fist in dealing with smugglers instead of curtailing the civil liberties of the people.

He said local businessmen have long been complaining about the governments inability to curb smuggling, which leads to loss of revenues for the government and jobs for the people.

The government should take an iron fist in waging a fearless war against smugglers. It should not use it to curtail the civil liberties of its citizens, he said.

Roxas pointed out that the recent actions of the government, such as the issuance of Calibrative Preemptive Response, Executive Order No. 464, and Proclamation No. 1017, betray the principle of checks and balance in a democratic government.

What these proclamations and orders have in common is a lack of tolerance for dissent, the unwillingness to listen to valid views, and an attitude of knowing it all, he said. We might all wake up one morning and realize that we have lost our freedom of speech. Our democracy is very precious and we must do all that we can to uphold and preserve it, he said.

Roxas said the government should have used its time and channeled its efforts in the delivery of basic social services like affordable food, cheaper drugs, and quality education, instead of using its energy in cracking down on media and implementing oppressive measures such as CPR, 464, and 1017.

He said the government should work for the translation of the gains in the financial sector into the real economy as seen in the prices of basic goods and lower interest rates on consumer and business loans.

He said the Philippine peso may have appreciated by almost 10 percent against the US dollar, but prices of goods that have high-import content have not gone down. Similarly, he said the low yields of the 91-day Treasury bills have not been translated into lower borrowing costs for consumers and businessmen.

The economic indicators are good, but they are meaningless if they are not translated into the real economy that will bring tangible benefits to the lives of the people, he said.

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