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Etta lists 16 “lapses in judgment”, demands more accountability than teary-eyed TV pseudo-confession June 30, 2005

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AKBAYAN Party-List Representative Loretta Ann Rosales today pushed for the continued inquiry into the alleged Gloriagate wiretap scandal, saying GMA’s admission on TV the other night “appears like an attempt to gloss over the substantive aspects of the conversation contained in those tapes.”

Rosales demanded that the Congressional inquiry into the alleged wiretapped conversations proceed, saying “the public has to listen to the tapes to find the truth for themselves.”

She added “What is at stake here is the subversion of the people’s electoral will, “should they be authenticated they could constitute a betrayal of public trust, which is an impeachable offense,” she added.

But Rosales believes otherwise. Within the taped conversations that allegedly contains the President’s voice, Rosales said 16 ‘lapses in judgment’ showed more than just mere ‘impropriety’. She enumerated them as: threatening the family of a possible whistle blower on poll rigging held by the other camp, the changing of military personnel deputized by Comelec that is not sympathetic to the President; padding of votes from other municipalities that had to be counted; trying to make sure that SOVs and COCs corresponded with each other; possible use of the military in the manipulation of vote counting; delaying the canvassing process, especially with that of the Senate; among others.

For Rosales, “If she was innocent, why take three weeks to respond? Was the script riddled with too many loopholes?”

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GMA apology noted, but admission skirts issue of electoral fraud June 28, 2005

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AKBAYAN Party-List Representative Etta Rosales tonight said GMA’s admission that it was her voice recorded in a wiretapped conversation with a COMELEC official does not end the story of the Gloriagate scandal.

“It’s good to note that she finally broke her silence,” said Rosales, empathically, but added “but to justify calling up a COMELEC official she still didn’t even identify and call it merely a ‘lapse in judgment’ is skirting the issue at the core of the wiretapped conversations.”

According to Rosales, “if the explanation for the tapes were this easy, this convenient, why did it take so long to come out with it?” Rosales added, “It only goes to show the need for more people to listen to more of the tapes, and decide for themselves just how tenuous the President’s statements probably are.”

For the AKBAYAN solon, GMA’s televised apology does not mean the Congressional hearing should now end. “In fact, the House should even speed up its inquiry, and allow for the public to form its own conclusion.”

Rosales suggested that Garcillano be immediately summoned to the House inquiry to shed light on his part in the conversations. As for the implications of GMA’s admission Rosales advised, “she probably agrees that it was improper conduct, but for some it would be an impeachable offense. That has to be studied and deliberated on now,” she explained.

Payola rumors lending credence to efforts at stopping wiretap inquiry June 28, 2005

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Is there money going around to ensure that the ongoing inquiry on the alleged wiretap conversations between GMA and a COMELEC official is stopped?

Akbayan Representative Etta Rosales pondered the question as she sought clarification today from House leaders regarding malicious text messages going around that P500,000 was being distributed to House members supportive of GMA and an additional P2 million for each member who would vote down the continuation of the wiretap inquiry led by the Committee on Public Information.

In an open letter addressed to Speaker Jose de Venecia, Rosales said that “black propaganda such as the circulating message will only serve their purpose if the House fails the public in its commitment to push through with the inquiry regarding the tape.” She thus urged de Venecia to ensure that the House is able to pursue the inquiry, regardless of Malacañang’s pronouncements that the President will speak on a matter “of vital concern” to the nation later tonight.

Rosales expressed concern that dark elements are out to undermine the ongoing investigation. The lady solon however believes that the inquiry should proceed as scheduled, regardless of the President’s scheduled speech.

“Regardless of what impact the President’s announcement slated for tonight makes, the very thought of another payola making the rounds of the House is disturbing in itself,” said Rosales, who in 2000 exposed a payola scandal regarding the passage of the Electricity Industry Reform bill. “We need to assure the public that this is not true, and we can only do that if the House continues the inquiry, and publicly play the Garcillano tapes,” she said.

AKBAYAN: Gloriagate tapes should be played in public June 24, 2005

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AKBAYAN solons in the House of Representatives today urged the five-committee body investigating the alleged wiretapped conversation between President Arroyo and COMELEC Commissioner Virgilio Garcillano to publicly air the supposed conversations between the two.

“The issue at hand goes right to the very core of our democratic ideals,” said Rep. Etta Rosales. “The bottom-line is, people are asking – did GMA cheat in the elections? How can they know if the tapes, the very source of all these contentions, are not available for ordinary people to hear?”

Rep. Mario Aguja, meanwhile, seconded Rosales’s suggestion. “Yesterday we saw stiff opposition from some lawmakers when a motion was presented to have the tapes played.”

According to the two solons, if the House refuses as a body to listen to the tapes while keeping it out of the public sight, “suspicion among the general public would only deepen and further obfuscate our common task of ferreting out the truth,” Rosales said.

“We cannot afford to tie ourselves down to questions of legality and propriety, since the acts supposedly illustrated in the tapes are improper and illegal in themselves. There is a higher purpose at work in this inquiry,” said Aguja.

The AKBAYAN solons distributed copies of the alleged conversations as the House began its inquiry into the wiretapped conversations on its third day, wearing pinned CDs on their barong that said “Let’s hear the truth”.

According to Rosales, “the conversations are in themselves a legitimate public interest, there should be no reason why people should not be allowed to listen to them in a formal setting such as the Congressional inquiry.”

Crackdown on activists is violation of freedom of expression, muddles search for truth behind Garci tapes June 22, 2005

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The NBI raid on a printing press in Quezon City and the subsequent confiscation of posters depicting caricatures of the President smacks of downright fascism, a draconian response to a Constitutionally-protected right and a desperate attempt to go after perceived opponents instead of facing the charges of electoral fraud head on.

The President cannot afford, under such extraordinary circumstances to keep silent for long. She owes the public an explanation.

But even before that, there are matters of people’s rights that have to be addressed. She must halt government forces from swooping down on private businesses and harassing them for printing posters with contents critical of her administration.

Last week, two Akbayan youth leaders were already arrested for posting the very same materials, and from the original charges of violating an anti-littering ordinance, the case was grandly elevated to inciting to sedition.

Uneasy, they say, lies the head that wears the crown. With nothing to hide, why should government agents try desperately to intimidate and activists merely posing a legitimate question: is the President the person recorded in the Garci tapes?

As Chair of the House Committee on Human Rights, it distresses me to see how this government is resorting to raids and arrests as if the anti-terrorism bill were already enacted into law. What more if it had been, then? The government is extending a coercive arm to obfuscate a need to decisively address the Garci tape controversy, and if this pressure extends to the Congressional hearings going down starting today, then whatever shred of credibility the President still has will only be further eroded.

The administration is therefore well advised to let the Congressional inquiry take its natural course, in full view of and 100% before the public. All deliberations must be transparent since the public demands, nay, deserves the truth.

If the President is innocent, not only should she explain herself, she should let the discourse continue, in the streets and in the halls of Congress. Tell the NBI and the police to back off from harassing activists, and desist from using her Congressional allies to derail the House inquiry.

Crackdown on activists is violation of freedom of expression, muddles search for truth behind Garci tapes June 22, 2005

Posted by s511 in Uncategorized.
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The NBI raid on a printing press in Quezon City and the subsequent confiscation of posters depicting caricatures of the President smacks of downright fascism, a draconian response to a Constitutionally-protected right and a desperate attempt to go after perceived opponents instead of facing the charges of electoral fraud head on.

The President cannot afford, under such extraordinary circumstances to keep silent for long. She owes the public an explanation.

But even before that, there are matters of people’s rights that have to be addressed. She must halt government forces from swooping down on private businesses and harassing them for printing posters with contents critical of her administration.

Last week, two Akbayan youth leaders were already arrested for posting the very same materials, and from the original charges of violating an anti-littering ordinance, the case was grandly elevated to inciting to sedition.

Uneasy, they say, lies the head that wears the crown. With nothing to hide, why should government agents try desperately to intimidate and activists merely posing a legitimate question: is the President the person recorded in the Garci tapes?

As Chair of the House Committee on Human Rights, it distresses me to see how this government is resorting to raids and arrests as if the anti-terrorism bill were already enacted into law. What more if it had been, then? The government is extending a coercive arm to obfuscate a need to decisively address the Garci tape controversy, and if this pressure extends to the Congressional hearings going down starting today, then whatever shred of credibility the President still has will only be further eroded.

The administration is therefore well advised to let the Congressional inquiry take its natural course, in full view of and 100% before the public. All deliberations must be transparent since the public demands, nay, deserves the truth.

If the President is innocent, not only should she explain herself, she should let the discourse continue, in the streets and in the halls of Congress. Tell the NBI and the police to back off from harassing activists, and desist from using her Congressional allies to derail the House inquiry.

It is time to abolish the death penalty June 1, 2005

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As Chairperson of the House Committee on Human Rights, it is but natural that I should take this opportunity as a blessing in that this gathering signifies wide support and an increasing understanding among lawmakers on the need to do away totally with the death penalty as capital punishment.

It is precisely the absence of convincing evidence that the death penalty has deterred crime which even proves the point: that the effective enforcement and speedy delivery of justice that strikes fear into the heart of criminals and other people contemplating violating our laws.

In the face of so much lawlessness and criminality, government must be firmer in its commitment to enforce the law, without fear nor favor, and ensure the dispensation of punishment to erring elements. By this we can truly say that justice is served in this country, and what greater injustice is better resolved than poverty, which lies at the root of almost all heinous crimes?

Poverty is not an abstract, far-off objective. Every single day presents us with an opportunity to take steps, no matter how minute, to get to the bottom of this menace and deter people from going to extreme measures to escape their misfortunes and hunger.

The death penalty is a cruel and inhumane punishment for mostly poor people who are left pretty much to their own defense given the incompetence and prohibitive cost of going through the legal system. The rich and influential on the other hand manage to elude the law and it is this inconsistency that basically makes the death penalty doubly unacceptable.

With my fellow legislators sounding the call for the abolition of the death penalty, we share the aspiration that the Philippines finally stay faithful to its international obligations under instruments such as the International Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That life is sacred, holds the key to the very dignity of man and woman, and must therefore be protected and upheld at all costs.

No double standards in pursuit of terrorist threats and suspects June 1, 2005

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The case of Luis Posada Carilles will surely test the Philippines’ resolve to truly combat terrorism and to show that it can be fair and impartial in its efforts to do its part as a member of the global community to seriously address this menace.

Posada, a well-known operative with documented involvement in activities that are the very least suspicious and at most pinpoint him as a terrorist, is now enjoying relative security in the United States as a detainee for illegal entry. Ironically, he is able to evade the long arm of justice by being incarcerated. But only for charges that fall far too short of the crimes that have been ascribed to him.

The Cuban government has sought the help of the Philippine government to have Posada extradited to Venezuela to stand trial on several charges of terrorism, and it is here that the Philippine government can truly prove that its sincerity in battling terrorism goes beyond the dictates of its close ally.

The only sensible thing for the Philippine government to do is to engage the Cuban and Venezuelan governments in dialogue, get the assurance of the Venezuelan government that Posada will be accorded due process and protected against any violations of his human rights, and make the request available for the US government to accede to international demands that he be turned over to Venezuelan authorities to stand trial.

The Philippines is in a unique position right now, precisely because it heads the Asia Pacific Council on Anti-Terrorism, and is currently enjoying membership in the UN Security Council. It is therefore in a very fortuitous position to help other countries in their pursuit of justice for the thousands of victims of terrorist actions attributed to people like Posada.

The lesson for the country in this episode is how unsatisfactory its own efforts have been in rooting out the causes behind terrorism and implement wider-ranging policy and security reforms otherwise ignored and totally glossed over by its own proposed anti-terror bill which is vague and prone to abuse.

In Posada’s case, a failure on the part of the Philippine government to act on this request, or to act accordingly to less than satisfactory result would be an embarrassment we simply cannot afford as a country supposedly serious and intent on crafting a foreign policy independent of any foreign powers, as mandated in our very Constitution.

Rep. Etta Rosales
Akbayan