The Senate convened to interrogate National Security Director Norberto Gonzalez and as a colleague described it, “it’s like watching an eel wriggle on a fish hook.” He was actually handled by kid gloves, particularly by Senators Joker Arroyo and Pimentel, old colleagues in the anti-Marcos opposition. But the senators eventually lost their cool, at one point threatening to detain him because the man was incapable of giving a simple -or coherent- answer to some fairly straightforward questions: did the President authorize the contract? Who is paying for it? And while lobbying contracts are ok, is it ok to have a lobbying contract for constitutional amendments? And so the hearing has been going in circles until interrupted either by hypoglycemia or hypertension on the part of Sec. Gonzalez (Alvin Capino has an amusing account of how Gonzalez hung up on Teddyboy Locsin when he couldn’t take the line of questioning on a radio show). The hearing resumed and really, it’s refreshing to see senators crushing a witness under the pressure of honeyed, silky words, and not of angry questioning. The hearing ends with Serge Osmena’s “Thank you Bert. Hope you feel better,” in the manner one talks to an imbecile. Final resolution for today: Gonzalez is a prisoner of the Senate (cited for contempt), and the books of accounts of the National Security Agency and allied offices, have been subpoenaed.
Meanwhile, the Executive Secretary’s announced that “maximum tolerance” has given way to a “calibrated preemptive response.” The Makati rally under the auspices of Bukluran para sa Katotohan is gearing up. Ricky Carandang reports that he hears murmurs of disquiet among the membership, and that there may be a significance to the absence of both Susan Roces and Cory Aquino (and the Hyatt 10) from the rally (Cory has other engagements; Susan is sick; the Hyatt 10 have other engagements, too).
Readings for today: the Inquirer editorial laments the lack of closure when it comes to the Marcoses (and Michael Tan recalls the martial law period and subversion; blogger Armed with Idealism recalls student activism); the Manila Times recounts the declaration of martial law; Greg Macabenta writes on Filipina maids coping with tension; Mindanews has a piece saying the Edsa statue of the Virgin Mary is cursed; the Vice President objects to being called inept by the Americans (Miron, who makes a welcome return to the blogosphere, is highly amused); Carmen Guerrero Nakpil compares George W. Bush to President Arroyo (NBC News blog describes the frantic efforts in the West Wing of the White House).
In the blogosphere, Jove Francisco reports on camping out in New Jersey to witness the American authorities’ handling of Michael Ray Aquino (read the entry, it’s quite interesting); Ricky Carandang says the urgent task is to rebuild the Middle; Newsboy has yet another juicy entry, defending the President because of the idiocy of those opposed to her: I’m almost ready to proclaim him the Kitty Go of journalist-bloggers, tee hee; Global Voices Online links to the Sassy Lawyer (who has a provocative take on the existence of terrorism here); Edwin Lacierda asks if a one term limit is wise (I prefer no term limits, because the public deserves the democratic closure that comes from voting a president out of office, which has often been the case: a president who loses becomes a retired official resigned to obscurity); Ronnel Lim has a delightful excerpt from the memoirs of Achmed Sukarno; La Vida Lawyer wonders what the Supreme Court’s actions on the VAT appeal really signifies;
Finally, for the record, here’s the official Bukluran para sa Katotohanan statement for today:
BUKLURAN PARA SA KATOTOHANAN
Bukluran para sa Katotohanan joins the nation in recalling September 21, when by virtue of Proclamation 1081, President Ferdinand E. Marcos placed the entire country under martial law, imposed one-man rule and perpetuated himself in power.
We call on the nation to reflect on how, in the name of public order and security, our nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s cherished democratic rights and civil liberties were set aside. We ask all our citizens to pause and pay tribute to those known and unknown, prominent and unrecognized, who were detained, tortured, killed or disappeared simply because they fought for democracy or were viewed as enemies of the state.
For those of us, whether young or old, who recall the true nature and dark days of Martial Law, for those who resisted it from the start, or came to appreciate its full horrors later, let us vow: never again. For those too young to recall Martial LawÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s excesses, let us always remember the sacrifices, miseries, bravery, of those who bravely stood up for freedom, who paid the ultimate prize for national redemption, who redeemed our nation by working to restore our liberties.
Many of our fellow Filipinos will commemorate the anniversary of martial law with various fora and protest actions. We urge every concerned Filipino, as their principles and political beliefs guide them, to exercise their right to participate in what should always be a National Day of Consecration to Freedom, Democracy and Peace.
BUKLURAN itself will hold a protest march and rally at Ayala Avenue on Wednesday, September 21, at 3pm with the theme Ã¢â‚¬Å“Gloria Must Go!Ã¢â‚¬Â
Accountability and truth from our government are the path to peace and justice. Acknowledging its accountability with regards to the question of determining the validity of its mandate is the means to finding the truth as to allegations of electoral fraud. Instead of stonewalling, and its efforts to suppress or evade the truth, to the extent of abusing its authority, we ask our government to come clean. A government that fights the truth is like the Marcos Dictatorship. It must be made to step down.
BUKLURAN urges: Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, since you will not tell us the truth, you must go! You have ensured no impeachment to worry about. You can no longer plead the necessity of being silent to promote your attorneyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s defense. To remain silent now is to squander and lose every opportunity to claim a constitutional mandate and reclaim our peopleÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s recognition, trust and confidence.
For all of us, old and young, veterans of the fight against dictatorship, or who have grown up enjoying the relative freedoms regained since then, let us commit once more, to each other and to our country, that our democratic space is too precious to ever lose again.
The price of liberty, it is often said, is eternal vigilance. Too many slept, when, in the dark of night, our democracy was extinguished and our hard-won rights taken away. Let us always resolve that there will never be another opportunity for our liberties to be stolen, as if by a thief in the middle of the night. We remain united for the truth, we remain committed to demanding the truth, we act as one to defend the truth. Since Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo continues to deny her people the truth, she must go.