MUSLIMS  THREATEN UPRISING: PEOPLE POWER A LEGAL OPTION
 

MANILA,  JUNE 2, 2004
(TRIBUNE)
By Angie M. Rosales, Sherwin C. Olaes, Gerry Baldo and Dona Policar  -  Speaker Jose de Venecia's early declaration of President Arroyo as winner of the presidential race as well as Malacañang and its security aides' threat of the alleged destabilization plot that is being linked to the political opposition, along with the opposition camp poised to stage a mass walkout during the canvassing of votes in joint Congress – are seen to heighten political tension with several Moslem organizations reportedly mulling taking their legal fight to the streets by staging another popular uprising.

According to Muslims for Law and Youth, there had been widespread and systematic cheating during the May 10 elections, which “results now contained in the certificates of canvass have been altered.”

“We, the Moslems in the country, decry the widespread, massive and systematic cheating particularly in Muslim Mindanao. We have, in our possession evidence to prove that there was massive, systematic and widespread fraud in all provinces,” the Muslims for law and truth, said in a statement yesterday.

“Let our voices be heard. Show the world that we, respecting Filipinos will sit idly by while unscrupulous leaders and their agents destroy democracy and tear our nation apart,” the Moslems said in a veiled call for another people power.

According to Amina Rasul, a united opposition “senatoriable,” taking their fight to streets is one legal means for the people to change their government.

it idly by while unscrupulous leaders and their agents destroy democracy and tear our nation apart,” the Moslems said in a veiled call for another people power.

According to Amina Rasul, a united opposition “senatoriable,” taking their fight to streets is one legal means for the people to change their government.

Rasul said previous popular uprisings were upheld by the Supreme Court.

“Taking our fight to the streets is considered a legal remedy,” Rasul stressed, referring to the previous rulings of the high tribunal on the legality of the Aquino and Arroyo administrations.

“This is an option that has been proved in the past years, that the parliament of the street is legal.”

“I would not be surprised if the people decide to take to the streets,” she said.

Rasul called on the joint session of Congress to listen to the laments of the people and not to be a part of Mrs. Arroyo's grand plan to perpetuate herself in Malacañang.

The cases of ballots switching and dagdag-bawas (shaving) have been systematic as almost all the local government officials “were trying to rework the election results in favor of Mrs. Arroyo,” the opposition bet charged.

Lawyer Homobono Adaza, counsel for Filipinos for Peace, Justice and Progress Movement (FPJPM), said taking to the streets is up for the people to decide.

In a press conference, Adaza and Boots Cadsawan, president of FPJPM, said they are going to abide by the will of the Filipino people.

Malacañang and officials of the Philippine National Police (PNP) also yesterday received a mouthful from Sen. Aquilino Pimentel Jr. for claiming the opposition is poised to stage a walkout in the ongoing canvassing procedures — a move they insinuated is likely to fuel another political crisis in the country.

“The alleged walkout plot that the police authorities have peddled before the media is nothing but malicious and baseless speculation,” Pimentel said.

The Arroyo administration and its cohorts in the PNP, the senator said, are peddling a non-existent and fabricated intelligence report.

The plan allegedly seeks to prevent the proclamation of President Arroyo.

“We, in the opposition, can get back at them by speculating that they (security aides) have been instructed by higher authorities to unleash this kind of disinformation,” Pimentel said.

This kind of development, according to the senator, could only be but another form of maneuvering by Malacañang to divert public attention on the alleged irregularities in the last elections, particularly in the canvassing of votes for President and Vice President.

The PNP, he said, is resorting to outright lies to malign the legitimate opposition and please its masters in Malacañang at the expense of democratic processes.

“They want to shut up the opposition and cover up the various cases of fraud that have tainted the elections,” he said.

In reply to the police authorities' claim that the alleged walkout plot is intended to destabilize the government, Pimentel stressed what is destabilizing the government is the combined efforts of Malacañang and its allies in Congress to block the scrutiny of election documents that would confirm the opposition's substantiated claims of widespread fraud.

“They are against the adoption of rules that will prove our claim the statement of votes and election returns do not correspond to the figures that appear in the certificates of canvass,” he said.

Alarmed by a possible popular uprising, Malacañang urged the opposition legislators to drop their plan of conducting a mass walkout at the Batasang Pambansa.

Using as basis the alleged “A-1” information gathered by the PNP, presidential spokesman Ignacio Bunye appealed to the members of the opposition from the two houses of Congress to observe statesmanship while the vote canvassing is being conducted.

The Palace spokesman said although the Arroyo camp believed such a report has basis, it remains hopeful that the opposition would not stage a mass walkout.

“We're hoping members of both Congress are responsible enough and will show statesmanship at this time,” according to Bunye.

“We don't want to interfere in their (PNP) affairs. They are just showing various scenarios which they think could hamper the process of the canvassing but we are confident that the process will continue,” he stressed.

In a warning, De Venecia urged members of the opposition to refrain from making walkout threats, saying they would only do a disservice to the Filipino people.

“They can't always threaten the House,” he said when asked how Congress would deal with the problem should the opposition refuse to participate in the canvassing process.

Without giving a direct answer, the Speaker said the opposition should not ask for so much more, considering, “we've been very fair to them.”

“We have been reaching out to them. We have always been accommodating,” he said.

For his part, opposition Rep. Bellaflor Angara (Aurora) said the opposition is not discounting such a possibility, specially if the opposition will always be pushed to the limit.

“It really depends on what will come out. If things compel us to do that walkout), then I think this is not impossible.”

Ilocos Norte Rep. Imee Marcos, Party-list Rep. JV Bautista and Davao City Rep. Ruy Elias Lopez, however, stressed this is just one of the many options that the opposition is now being considered, saying such a move will only be taken as “last resort” and must not be seen by Malacañang as another reported destabilization plot.


Reported by: Sol Jose Vanzi

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