By LUIS G. JALANDONI
Member, NDFP National Executive Committee
The National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP) vigorously condemns Mrs. Gloria Arroyo's declaration of martial law in Maguindanao. It is reminiscent of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus a year before declaring Martial Law in 1972.
Prominent law professors have denounced her declaration as a contemptuous violation of the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines which requires an invasion or rebellion for such declaration. Moreover, the Supreme Court has exposed as false her claim that the judicial system in Maguindanao is not functioning.
She relies on her loyal followers in the House of Representatives to outvote the opposition in the Senate. Both houses of Congress have to approve by simple majority her declaration.
This testing of the waters by Ms. Gloria Arroyo in preparation for possible declaration of martial law in other areas or all over the country is one scheme she has for clinging to power. It is ominous that Major Gen. Gaudencio Pangilinan, AFP vice-chief of staff for operations, has just recommended that the martial law proclamation be extended to the May 2010 elections.
Mrs. Arroyo has also filed her candidacy for a congressional seat in her home province of Pampanga. This would pave the way for her to be elected Prime Minister once a Constituent Assembly (Con-Ass) would be convened to amend the Constitution.
The US and other foreign powers are pushing for amending the Constitution to allow 100% ownership of land by foreigners and other amendments advantageous to their interests. Mrs. Arroyo can therefore bank on their support for her Con-Ass move. As Prime Minister she would enjoy immunity from prosecution for her many crimes against the people.
Another scheme of Mrs. Arroyo is No-El or failure of elections together with the declaration of a “Transition Government” under her leadership. Widespread violence, instigated by her warlord cronies, like the Ampatuans of Maguindanao, may be used as the excuse for “Failure of Elections”. The scheme of “Transition Government” under Mrs. Arroyo has been pushed and publicized by her National Security Adviser, Norberto Gonzales, who is concurrently Secretary of Defense.
Mrs. Arroyo has also prepared for the coming elections by making sure that her favorite general, Delfin Bangit, formerly Presidential Security Guard (PSG) chief and head of the Intelligence Service of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, will be the Chief of Staff of the AFP at the time of the elections in May 2010. Other favored generals are placed in strategically important positions.
Even the Maguindanao massacre may be considered suspect as a plot by Mrs. Arroyo and her crony warlord, Andal Ampatuan Sr., to lay the ground for the declaration of martial law. Up to now, Malacanang has not given any explanation why Andal Ampatuan, Sr., the governor of Maguindanao and his son, Zaldy, governor of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) were in Malacanang just prior to and during the Massacre in Maguindanao, for allegedy “an emergency meeting”. It is widely known that Andal Ampatuan Sr. used.force and fraud in Maguindanao to provide Mrs. Arroyo a wide margin of more than 130,000 votes in the 2004 elections. In the entire ARMM, Arroyo won by a margin close to 300,000.
In the 2007 elections, Andal Ampatuan, Sr. ensured a 12-0 sweep for the Administration senatorial candidates. On the contrary, 19 opposition candidates, including the 12 in the “Genuine Opposition” did not get a single vote in 20 out of 22 municipalities in Maguindanao. Soon after her “victory” in the 2004 elections, Mrs. Arroyo threw a big party in Malacanang for Andal Ampatuan, Sr.
It is no wonder that officers of the Philippine National Police (PNP) have been identified as among the leaders of the massacre. Units of the PNP and AFP have been part of the private army of the Ampatuan clan, and many of its weapons were provided by the AFP and PNP.
Mrs. Arroyo and her regime must be condemned and held accountable for the impunity she gives to Ampatuan and her other favored warlords to whom she is deeply indebted for giving her hundreds of thousands of fraudulent votes. She must also be held accountable for the massacre in Maguindanao and many other gross violations of human rights because of her schemes to prolong herself in power.