Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm happy to share with you two statements from RC Constantino, also known as Renato Constantino, Jr. and who also happens to be my dad. The first is a message he delivered last December 5th before the House of Representatives' Human Rights Committee as it celebrated International Human Rights Day. RC was hoping AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Hermogenes Esperon would attend but the Hello Garci general was a no-show, unfortunately. The second is about Con-Ass. You would do well to read both. They give quite a brief but pretty clear picture as to the state the country is in at present.

Renato Constantino, Jr.
House of Representatives, Mitra Building
December 5, 2006

My thanks to Congressman Bienvenido Abante and the House Committee on Human Rights for inviting me to share a few thoughts in celebration of International Human Rights Day.

Human rights has everything to do with respect. Respect for the rule of law. Respect for the basic rights of persons by the state and its agents. But respect must proceed from a tolerance of those with differing, even opposing, views and perspectives.

Having said that, I must admit that I was a bit perplexed when I received the invitation to address this gathering. Why would a person presently charged with rebellion by the present dispensation be invited to share his thoughts in this establishment institution? But I am not complaining.

I will not talk about the seemingly never-ending extra-judicial killings, agents of this government have perpetrated with impunity. I will not talk about the attempts of this government to thwart investigative inquiries by the Senate through its exercise of EO 464. Neither will I talk about how this government tried to stifle dissent by the use of CPR. Nor will I touch on the implications to democracy of Proclamation 1017.

This is an an opportunity to share with you a very personal experience of mine. I am not going to talk about the nature of the case against me, that is for the lawyers to handle. I will, however, comment on the state's conduct in this matter.

Every accused person has the right to be informed of the specifications of the charges lodged against him. At the first hearing, the Department of Justice prosecution panel was unable or unwilling to deliver a bill of particulars. And yet it demands that the accused — all 49 of us — submit a counter-affidavit. To what? Our lawyers asked!? At the second hearing the DOJ panel claimed it had a "new" complaint-affidavit but the complainants categorically refused to give the accused copies of the same. Incredible and preposterous, I know. But sadly, true.

This government's heavy-handed manner in displaying their brazen and wanton disregard of the simplest requirements of the law continues to amaze us.

If their attitude towards due process and the rule of law is so cavalier, how can their view of basic human rights be any different. Given the growing numbers of progressive individuals and journalists being killed, how can any other conclusion be drawn. Let me end by reiterating my statement last November 13 after the first rebellion hearing at the DOJ:

“The government's tactics of intimidation and lies can only succeed if we allow ourselves to be cowed. I have no intention of being a fugitive from the usurpers of power. The only way to combat their menace is through defiance.

“The utterly corrupt, completely incompetent and totally illegitimate government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo whose power does not emanate from the people does not have the moral right to expect obedience from the people. It does not have the integrity to command the respect of the citizenry. And, most of all, my stand is that a regime that has usurped power has no right to charge anyone who questions its legitimacy with rebellion.”

You may not share my view on the legitimacy of this government, so let me ask you this instead: will you then share responsibility for this government's actions? Who does? #

Statement issued December 8, on the occasion of the press conference of former Vice President Tito Guingona and other organizers of the anti Con-Ass demonstrations that are forthcoming.

Cpl. Daniel Smith has been found guilty by Judge Benjamin Pozon of the crime of rape. The people cheered the rendering of justice. Three of Smith’s companions who watched, even egged him on while he was raping Nicole, were unfortunately acquitted and have since left the Philippines. The people winced. Now pending is the question of the site of incarceration of Smith, presently at the Makati City Jail as directed by Judge Pozon. The US Embassy has now demanded custody while the judicial process is ongoing. Already the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Justice and Malaca├▒ang itself (even before the note verbale from the US Embassy was received), indicated in no uncertain terms an inclination to deliver Smith to his Embassy. The people gritted their teeth in anger.

As custodial controversy swirls around this rape case, another rape is ongoing. Indeed a series of gang-rapes is unfolding. GMA’s bullies in the House of Representatives, acting like a gang gloating in the superiority of its numbers and brooking no obstacle to its goals, rode roughshod over the minority and have just raped its own House Rules. This paved the way for the introduction of measures that would insure that the Lower House could now proceed to rape the Constitution. The next step will be a plebiscite where it will be the people’s turn to be raped as GMA’s electoral goons ensures the fraudulent approval of its bastardized Charter.

The question now is whether the people will simply sit by and allow this travesty to go on. Whether we will allow GMA and her serial gang-rapists to succeed in their patently illegal, sinfully immoral and criminally rapacious behavior.

Will we just spread our legs as Malaca├▒ang, the DFA and the DOJ appear bent on doing? Or shall we, like courageous Nicole, put all on the line and fight for our rights no matter the odds? As self-respecting Filipinos, we can do no less. Together let us express our national outrage at this high crime that GMA, JDV and all their cohorts are committing against the Filipino people.

Renato Constantino, Jr.
December 8, 2006 #


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