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Politics

UP Republic March 3, 2006 Friday

UP Republic

Proclamation 1017 (P1017)
The week following President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's (GMA) declaration of P1017 putting the country into a national state of emergency was marred by unconstitutional acts of government takeover of media establishments, summary killings of political opponents and unwarranted arrests. It was a blatant grab for power given the political uncertainties of her tenure brought about by widespread corruption, election fraud and duplicitous maneuverings to perpetuate herself in power. For all intents and purposes, it was Martial Law...disguised by a different name.

The newspaper Daily Tribune was taken over by military elements and put in place a General Lomibao as self-proclaimed publisher. Four members of the House of Representatives were arrested because of their opposing views of the GMA administration. The disgruntled Marines were confined within their barracks and their commandant replaced by a GMA appointee.

State-of-Emergency Free Zone
In a defiant response to GMA's proclamation, the University of the Philippines (UP) declared its hallowed ground, a state-of-emergency free zone. It continued to hold rallies, concerts and discussion groups that have since been declared illegal by P1017. Faculty and students stood hand-in-hand as they debunked the constitutionality of the proclamation and demanded the resignation of GMA.

Professor Randy David
Out of all this turmoil and uncertainty emerged a charismatic leader, Prof. Randy David. He carries a soft-spoken demeanor as he delivers his lucid assessment of the situation. At times, he is fiery and impassioned as he belts out his rallying cry for GMA's ouster. He has long been a GMA critic and was one of the first few people arrested by the military when Proc 1017 was declared. He has since been released due to public outrage and clamor. Since then, he has become a more visible figure and a compelling speaker in the protests, rallies and discussion groups that have taken place.

Protection for the Congress Persons
In a bold gesture, he addressed the 4 arrested congressmen telling them that if their peers in the House of Representatives could not protect their own, then the 4 should seek asylum in UP and they will be given protection! I was shocked to hear those brave words....a university with no army will circle the wagons against the military might of the GMA administration to provide refuge to the beleaguered persons of congress. Immediately, imagery of human barricades battling toe-to-toe vs. marauding military antagonists filled my mind as the crowd cheered and raised their fists in solidarity. I thought to myself, "...the pied piper has emerged".

Lifting of P1017
GMA eventually lifted P1017. Why? Even a freshman law student could see the unconstitutionality of the P1017. There was already a motion to the Supreme Court challenging its constitutionality. The obvious verdict would have put GMA between a rock and a hard place. This would also further question her authority and credible use of power. By lifting P1017 before the Supreme Court can file a ruling, the (un)constitutionality would be rendered moot and academic. It was a face-saving maneuver.

Ending Thoughts
Things are back to its academic normalcy in UP - classes resumed and students are back in the classrooms. The past week allowed me a ringside seat to see a benign household cat morphing into a blood-thirsty lion (when it was called upon to be) and back to being a cat. UP could appear to be a docile open environment to free thinkers but beneath that unassuming façade lies a fiery interior rough hewn by its history and mandate. Whoever sits on top, UP remains a power to reckon with.

--- TheLoneRider

Political Statements by TheLoneRider

March 3, 2006

Reader Comments:

may-i
(16 Mar 2006)
soft-spoken militancy.
voracious observation.
words were exquisitely woven.

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