Docena writes: Yesterday morning, President Gloria
Macapagal-Arroyo declared an indefinite "state of national
emergency" in the Philippines. Issued on the very week when
Filipinos were celebrating the 20th anniversary of the "People
Power" uprising which ended Ferdinand Marcos' 14-year
dictatorship, Arroyo's order authorizes the police and the military
the power to do everything necessary to neutralize "enemies"
of the state, bans all protest rallies, and threatens to take over
media outlets. Effectively placing the country under martial law,
Arroyo has restored what Filipinos ended twenty years ago.
About 10,000 of us defied the President's order and marched on Manila's busiest highway. We were violently dispersed. Twenty-six of us, including minors who were beaten up by the police, were arrested.
While we were eventually released -- presumably in an attempt by the government to project that the "state of emergency" is not as bad as people fear it would be -- the arrests are just the continuation of intensifying repression in the country. Even before the state of emergency was declared, 33 activists have been killed by suspected military agents or paramilitary groups. Police have routinely violently broken up street protests.
But with the proclamation, our arrests could just be the beginning of even more heightened repression, more severe curtailment of civil liberties, and more flagrant violation of human rights in the country. Today, a newspaper office was raided and a member of parliament was arrested. We are anxious of what could happen in the coming days.
These latest developments affirm that illegitimate regimes can only rule by force. As the Arroyo government becomes even more desperate, we can expect it to become more brutal.
We look forward to your support and solidarity for those of us who will be at the receiving end of this brutality – even as we continue to extend our solidarity to people at the receiving end of violence in Iraq, Palestine and other occupied countries and dictatorships around the world.
Yesterday's declaration of a "state of emergency" is just the latest response by a government that has been hounded by charges of electoral fraud and corruption since June 2005. But more than Arroyo's presidency is at stake. Increasingly, the entire post-1986 political system which entrenched ruling elites' hold on power under a framework of liberal democracy is being put into question. Indeed, opposition to Arroyo's regime is divided between those who want to salvage this system and those who want to once and for all give real meaning to "people power."
We look forward to your support and solidarity for those of us who are on this side -- even as we continue to extend solidarity to people resisting around the world.