Defend our civil liberties and fight for freedom!
Oppose Proclamation No. 1017!
Declaration of the University Council (UC) of the University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City on Proclamation No. 1017
28 February 2006
A university in a democracy draws its life from an environment of political freedom. None of its basic functions – the quest for truth, the encouragement of critical inquiry, the stimulation of the imagination – is possible in a climate of repression.
The University of the Philippines (UP) as the national university is the vanguard in upholding civil liberties and fighting for freedom. We affirm UP’s commitment to the fundamental constitutional and human rights of the people.
- UPD remains an open space for public debate consistent with its treasured value of academic freedom;
- UPD is a refuge for those who are subjected to political arrests and other forms of harassment;
- UPD challenges every move to clamp down on any of our basic freedoms;
- UPD reiterates its call for Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to resign; and
- UPD supports a peaceful transition in the political leadership.
STATEMENT OF THE UP FACULTY OF LAW ON PROCLAMATION 1017 AND GENERAL ORDER 5
Last Friday, February 24, 2006, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 1017, declaring state of national emergency. Immediately after, she issued General Order No. 5, directing the chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) to “immediately carry out necessary and appropriate actions and measures to suppress and prevent acts of terrorism and lawless violence.”
Since then, these two issuances have been used to justify the imposition of severe limitations on – and in certain instances the outright denial of – civil liberties guaranteed and protected under the Bill of Rights, including the freedoms of speech, expression, of the press, and public assembly. Ostensibly on the strength of Proclamation 1017 and General Order No. 5, a general ban on rallies has been imposed, the PNP has raided one newspaper and threatens to take over other media outfits which “fail to conform to government standards,” and numerous persons, including several members of Congress, have been arrested without warrant.
We, the faculty of the University of the Philippines College of Law, speaking with one voice, condemn in the strongest possible terms this brazen assault on essential freedoms. We firmly and unequivocally take the position that Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5, and the manner in which they are being applied by the Executive, constitute an unconstitutional infringement on civil liberties.
We refuse to accept the half-hearted excuse, put forth by some officials in the Arroyo administration, that the two issuances were “not intended” to violate the Bill of Rights. The simple and undeniable fact is that Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5 have been utilized by the PNP and other executive organs to mount a vigorous and unrelenting campaign against perceived critics of the administration, in full and flagrant disregard of the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights as well as the legal rules of procedure. Equally undeniable is that the President has sanctioned, or at the very least tacitly approved, these actions undertaken by her subordinates, all of whom are fully within her control.
The indisputable truth is that the violations of the Bill of Rights done pursuant to Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5 are acts of the President.
It must be emphasized that nothing in the Constitution can authorize the suspension of the Bill of Rights. Even under a declared state of martial law, which the Arroyo administration repeatedly insists this is not, the Bill of Rights remains fully operative. Thus, the suppression of free speech, the muzzling of the free press, and the prohibition on public assembly sanctioned by the two issuances cannot be constructed as anything other than clearly and unequivocally unconstitutional.
Our civil liberties, particularly the freedom of speech and public assembly are indispensable to our democracy. We cannot allow them to be arbitrarily suppressed. We therefore call for the immediate and unconditional rescission of Proclamation 1017 and General Order 5.