Curtailing freedom of expression

Thanks to the Tribune’s Ninez Cacho Olivarez’s sharp eye for detail, the proposal of the Gloria Arroyo’s Consultative Commission to trifle with our freedom of expression has been exposed.

Article IV (Bill of Rights), Section 4 of the draft Constitution submitted by the Consultative Commission states” No law shall be passed abridging the responsible exercise of the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances.”

The 1987 Constitution which is in effect today provides: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

The above revision was not contained among the highlights of their recommendations that the Concom released to the media upon completion of their work last month. The complete recommendations were made available only recently (
We thought that the postponement of the 2007 elections was the most idiotic of the Con-Com recommendations led by Jose Abueva, who strikes us as being up in the air and whose only concern is to make us laboratory rats to his idea of parliamentary-federal government. He doesn’t care if in making his dream come true, we lose our cherished freedom and basic rights.

But the proposed change in the freedom of expression provision strikes at the core of our basic rights as a citizen of a democratic country. The key change here is in the word “responsible.” Who will determine what is responsible exercise of freedom of speech? Who will determine what is a responsible press. Who will determine responsible petition for redress of grievances? Gloria Arroyo?

The proposed change is very Gloria Arroyo. Many times, she has made media the scapegoat of her inability to govern because of zero trust and credibility.

Remember that speech before the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas in Baguio City last November where she called on media to echo only her lies? “Today I call on you: Let us cast aside the ‘bad boy’ image that the press has acquired. Let us restore its glory as the ‘responsible son’ of a democratic nation.”

She asked media to forget about the truth and be the unprincipled opportunists she cultivates: “The coverage of kangaroo courts, lynch mobs and witch hunts assails the peace of mind and the hopes of the people…The public wants winners, I know you know that, because you’re always looking at ratings.”

The proposed provision, if carried out will legitimize the egregious Calibrated Preemptive Response.

Why is she resorting to this? Simple: To hide her crime of cheating in the 2004 elections which was exposed by the Hello Garci tapes.

It’s one crime after another that she is committing against the Filipino people. She is now tampering with the Constitution. This has to stop.

January 4, 2006 1:36 am   Posted in: Malaya

695 Responses

  1. jonas - January 4, 2006 4:09 am

    I agree. The impostor in Malacanang will stop at nothing just to perpetuate her hold to power. Sad thing is, there are people, learned people, such as those members of the Concom who allow themselves to become tools of an illegitimate government.

  2. bfronquillo - January 4, 2006 6:28 am

    You ask who will determine what is responsible exercise of freedom of speech. And behold the answer is Calibrated Preemptive Response, where on the ground it is the police officer who determines it. This is the reason why that amendment to the constitution is being proposed (CPR violates the Bill of Rights, you see) in order to legitimize the repression of freedom of speech and of the press. Brilliant ploy, indeed! But thanks to Ninez, it will not succeed. She is more brilliant than Abueva, I think.

  3. Tomas Tinio - January 4, 2006 8:00 am

    Talagang maiitim ang budhi ng mga taong nagpaplano ng mga ganitong assault kontra sa mga rights ng taong-bayan. Namimihasa na. Pero darating din ang araw nila. Akala nila ay walang katapusan na ang tagumpay nila. Isang araw, dadapo sila sa bitag. Huli. Walang kawala.

  4. Ellen - January 4, 2006 9:34 am

    In last night’s “Strictly Politics” ANC, hosted by Pia Hontiveros (disclosure:I’m editorial consultant for the show) the topic was this particular Concom provision. Guests were former Rep. Serge Apostol and Atty. Romela Bengzon, both members of the committee on Bill of Rights, Atty. Adel Tamano, professor of law at the Far Eastern University, and Vergel Santos, columnist of Businessworld and director of the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility.

    Bengzon said the word “responsible” was put there to “enhance and focus”. She talked about investments not coming in, because investors always read bad news. We should give more tiem and space for “good news”, etc. etc., the usual Malacañang line although she denied that the Concom was inspired by GMA’s tirade on media and the opposition.

    Apostol asked what’s the problem of of the word “responsibility” when media people themselves invoke that word all the time.

    Apostol said soemthing shocking: proof that media can sometime be irresponsible is the high number of journalists being killed.

    Tamano said changing the wording of that provision and adding the word “responsible” abridges freedom of expression.

    He said that provision is part of the basic rights that gives substance to democracy and that has not been touched, tampered with for decades , in the American Constitution to which our Constitution is patterned. Our own Philippine Constitution has undergone several changes since 1935 but the framers respected and preserved that particular provision.

    He said tampering with provision will create more confusion and disagreement.

    Santos said there is no such thing as good news or bad news. There is only news. It’s good or bad depending on who views it.

    Apostol and Bengzon said the word “responsible” is merely a guide. Santos and Tamano said there are enough laws to check abuses of freedom of expression.

    Santos said the Concom’s set of recommendations is putting the cart before the horse because they were appointed by a president whose mandate is doubtful.

  5. Ellen - January 4, 2006 9:40 am

    My own take on Apostol’s comments that proof of media’s irresponsibility is the high number of journalists killed:

    It’s possible that some of the killings of journalists are not related to their work as journalists or some may not have really been responsible journalists. But as Vergel santos said, that’s no justification for murder.

    It also cannot be denied that some of those cases were work-related. Like in the case of Marlene Esperat. To attribute their killings to ‘irresponsibility’ is adding insult to injury. Pinatay ka na nga, ininsulto ka pa.

  6. Jay Cynikho - January 4, 2006 11:57 am

    kawawang Pilipinas, nabibigyan
    ng responsibilidad para pagisipan
    ang kabutihan ng bayan ay mga
    convoluted thinkers – to enhance
    and focus daw para sa dayuhan
    investors; death by assasination
    is proof of irresponsible journalism.
    parang sinabi buti nga sa kanila
    sinusulat nila kasi ang katotohanan.
    galing talagang pumili ni gloria
    ng mga XXX at YYYYY.

  7. Jay Cynikho - January 4, 2006 12:06 pm

    sina apostol at bengzon
    segurado ba kayong
    miembro ng CONCOM yan,
    baka taga matadero yan
    mga yan. galing kasing
    kumatay ng bill of rights.

  8. jonas - January 4, 2006 12:49 pm


    I noticed medyo arrogante ‘yung si Atty. Romela Bengzon. When asked by Pia what ‘responsible’ means, in so many words she said that the Supreme Court will just interpret it. Ngeek! She added that there were long lines of Supreme Court decisions dealing with the meaning of what ‘responsible’ is. Diyos ko, they are the ones who put ‘responsible’ there and now they are pointing to the Supreme Court for it’s interpretation. Labo.

    But I notice she backed off in the face of Atty. Tamano and Mr. Santos’ insistence that what she and Apostol was talking about will not be taken lightly by the people.

  9. Jay Cynikho - January 4, 2006 1:53 pm

    Ayun nadinig ko lang bagong joke
    sa sinabi ko tungkol sa matadero.

    Sa matadero daw ngayon hindi na
    baboy ang kinakatay.
    Mga baboy na daw ang kumakatay
    Ano daw ang kinakatay? yun
    ating constitution.

  10. Carl - January 4, 2006 3:05 pm

    #%$#$%#@^#%@#%@… minsan talgang aatakihin ka sa puso sa mga pinagsasasabi ng mga arrovo boys…. iniisip ko nalang na namatay na sila at ini-ihian ko yung kanilang mga nitso… har har har har … talagang gagawin ko pagdating ng araw…

  11. john marzan - January 4, 2006 3:51 pm

    I think Apostol is parroting Mike Arroyo and Wycoco’s line. and take note ducky paredes quoting section 5, of the bill of rights. kapag naipasa na yung arroyo constitution, mawawala na yan.

    Mike Arroyo and journalists

    WHEN the First Gentleman tells the Bacolod Press Club that the reason those who are killing journalists have killed no member of the BPC is that the members of the BPC are responsible journalists who are well behaved, Mike Arroyo is telling the world that the killers of journalists are in the right.

    In effect, he is telling us that he agrees that those who, in his mind or in the mind of those ordering the killings, are irresponsible journalists, ought to die. It is only right. After all, what purpose do these irresponsible journalists serve if not to “destabilize” his wife’s government? They make themselves the enemy when they act irresponsibly. And, who are acting responsibly? Those who agree that Gloria Arroyo is the greatest thing that has ever happened to this country.

    This is how dangerous journalism has become in this country. All that has to happen is for someone like Mike Arroyo or some local satrap such as a governor or a mayor to identify some writer or broadcaster as a “destabilizer” and that journalist’s goose will soon be cooked. In other words, he’s dead! That is the reality.

    The sad part is that if even Mike Arroyo, the husband of Her Excellency feels this way, why would anyone – policeman or government functionary — go out of his way to protect journalists or to find out who killed them?

    Imagine, too, that the head of the NBI also came up with advice to journalists to the effect that because these are dangerous times, journalists ought to go easy in what they write or broadcast and how they write or speak. The onus for the killings is, in the mind of NBI director Reynaldo Wycoco, on the journalists, rather than on the killers.

    The victim is at fault. If he did not write or talk about the corruption, the cheating, the mistakes of those who govern and their profligate ways, then, he would not have been killed. It is as simple as that. It is as though he willed himself to be killed. Because he did all those forbidden things, then, naturally, he has to be killed. Do we actually expect the crooks in government to allow just about anyone to write any which way about them?

    Who gave journalists the right to write or talk about these irregularities? Who told them that they could do those things that they do that make the powerful uncomfortable and that shame them before the people that they are supposed to be serving but whom they are victimizing by their incompetence and avarice?

    How can anyone be doing a good job of reporting when he does not support Gloria Arroyo with the devotion of a lapdog?

    The serious answer to these questions is of course to be found in the Constitution: “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”

    Of course, as we all know, the second part of this provision is no longer honored by the present government. The present rule is “No permit, no rally!”

    Thus, even if no law has been passed abridging any of these freedoms, the fact is that we can no longer exercise many of these freedoms. As for journalists, the hard fact is that the Constitution does not guarantee the journalist’s freedom to live.

  12. Manila Party - January 4, 2006 4:47 pm

    naku, ellen, with apostol’s and bengzon’s knowledge–or lack of it–of what “responsible” exercise of press freedom is, i now have enough reason for not going back to journalism. and with the first gentleman saying that the bacolod (i hail from there) journalists are responsible journalists that’s why they’re not being killed, it seems to me that some people have knowledge on which journalist is going to be killed next–and why!

  13. Jay Cynikho - January 4, 2006 6:36 pm

    let’s not forget about our constitution.
    the damaged institutions and the bastards
    who run them will tear the constitution to
    shreds, that is if the people don’t get
    wise to it on time. The plebiscite is
    the icing in the cake. People should
    realize it by now that the mother of all battles is not in Mendiola.

    The mother of all battles are scattered
    in the damaged institutions, if this
    institutions and the bastards fall so will
    the cheaters, liars and thieves.

    As they mangle the constitution in Congress,
    in the Supreme Court and by the Comelec so the
    bastards must be mangled by the people. Right
    where they are in their sinecures, in their

  14. Rizalist - January 4, 2006 9:48 pm

    Ellen — Bullseye ang kumento ni Jonas dito. The line used by Apostol and Bengzon about letting the Supreme Court be the final interpreter of what the Constitution means, will be heard time and time again as the Palace pushes a new Charter. It’s diabolical really. The battle over what “3/4” means will probably be the acid test. With the High Court and the Lower House in the Palace’s pocket, I can see the plan and strategy for ramming through the Glorious Constitution. Actually, I’m quite pessimistic because only an already divided and conquered Senate stands in its way. Between the CONSIGLIERI on the Court and the TRAPOS in Kongress, why does the CAPO DI TUTTI CAPI even need the foolish CARABINIERI who are so unpredictable and just can’t reconcile themselves to the “system”? I mean look at how far along towards rehabilitation that Gen. Garcia is.

    Say, that Restituto Padilla Air Force guy could become head of the COMMISSARIAT OF RESPONSIBLE INFORMATION, don’t ya think?

  15. Jay Cynikho - January 5, 2006 9:39 am

    just to repeat myself in more words.
    the real battle for the truth should
    happen in the streets facing the
    damaged institutions, first, Congress.
    first again the Supreme Court and
    first again the COMELEC. if the
    people allow these damaged institutions
    to do their nefarious activities
    to mangle the constitution, what will
    be left will be the gnashing of teeth, the
    cry of the defeated and the blogs of
    the righteous.

    sige pabayaan natin, tutal may
    plebiscite naman. sa ngayon
    wala sa Mendiola ang laban,
    nasa Congreso. Tama si Gloria
    lahat pati ang oposisyon may
    atraso sa bayan, kaya sa kanya
    tuloy ang gloria ng pamilya.

    Tama si Jhun Sagum 80 porsiyento
    ang ayaw at galit kay Gloria. Sabi ko
    naman 80% ang mabuting Filipino,
    20% na mayoria ay politiko at mga
    negosyanteng may business sa
    gobierno ang dapat tutukan ng
    pansin, pag nawala yang 20% na
    yan may pag asang mawala ang
    mandaraya sa halalan, mawala ang
    mga magnanakaw at hayop sa kapwa
    Pinoy. Hangga’t nandiyan yan
    wala pag asang bumuti ang buhay
    ng mahihirap. Impossibleng
    mangyari yan dahil hindi kayang
    gawin ng Pinoy ang ginawa sa Francia,
    sa Espanya, sa U.S., etc. ng diligin
    nila ng dugo ng masasama ang kanilang

  16. Urgie F. from NYC - January 6, 2006 12:47 am

    Iyan si Romella Bengson ay baka di tunay Pinoy.
    Di ba,sya ay New York Lawyer, labas brown American
    Iyan si Sergio Apostol,di ba matadero ni Marcos
    Ano ngayon sila ni Satanss Gloria
    Kapanalig sa paglibing sa hukay sa mga ng Pinoy
    Nilibing na, yuyuraka pa
    Ano ngayon dapat gawin ng bawat Pinoy
    May kasabihan, sige magpakaligaya kayo ngayon
    May araw din tulad ninyo, mga peste ng bayan.

  17. Urgie F. from NYC - January 7, 2006 10:07 am

    I download and print the Proposed Revision of the 1987 Constitution included the ConCom commentary.The follwing ConCom comentary:
    1. ConCom members are not rubber-stamp of Arroyo.
    2.Gloria Arroyo selected the best and brightest peronalities
    in the country to draft amendments to the 1987

  18. Ross Tpio - January 7, 2006 10:21 am

    The Apostol amendment is amendment by sleight of hand or saling pusa. Very dangerous.

  19. Urgie F. from NYC - January 7, 2006 10:36 am

    With the ConCom’s commentary.. nakatawa!!!sino ba ang
    maniwala di rubber Gloria.
    Best and brightest personalities in the country…pinuri ang kani-kanilang sarili. Naku.. best and brightest ha!ha!ha.. mahiya naman kayo. Tanggapin ng masang Pilipino na kayo
    ang pinakamatino sa Pilipinas. Pero ano ang malaman ng utak ninyo.. kayo’y ginamit ni Lucifer Gloria bilang extensyon sa pagyurak sa karapatan ng sambayanan Pilipino. Ngayon nasaan ang mga utak ninyo…!!!!!!!!!!Magkano ang ginasta ninyo.. Kawawa si Juan de la Cruz.. Akalain sa mga Hotel pa kayo nag-ganap ng consultation. Pilini ninyo ang audience, na mga politico, vested interest,at negosyante… labas lutun makaw.

  20. taong nagiisip - January 25, 2006 5:01 pm

    ellen, jonas, et. al.

    I do understand your reactions regarding the addition of the word “responsible” under the proposed constitution of the consultative commission. The truth is, i do not totally agree with some of the proposals submitted by the said commission.

    But in fairness to mr apostol and ms bengzon, i certainly believe that the insertion of the word “responsible” is an imperative amendment under the bill of rights.

    I have read many cases decided the Supreme Court involving the right of the people to freedom of expression. Notwithstanding such guarantee, the Supreme Court have always reminded the people that such right is not absolute and may be curtailed, to a certain extent, by the government under its police power for the protection of the general welfare. That is also the reason why we have laws on libel, defamation, etc. These laws only show that the freedom of expression must be and should always be exercised responsibly and it cannot be used to prejudice others. Thus, the addition of the word “responsible” under the said proposal, to my mind, merely “put into words” the well entrenched principle that all rights must be exercised responsibly.

    But why do we have to put it in the Constitution when it is already recognized under our jurisprudence?

    The answer to this question has been aptly stated by the two commissioners, Apostol and Bengzon. It is there to stress a point. We know how powerful the media is in a democratic country such as ours. I believe Ms ellen would not disagree if I say that some people in the media are using it for their own interest or profit. I too had the chance to work in the media and I have seen how these crooks work! It is better to remind these people that the power of the pen should be used to enligthen the people and not to extort from them.

    Second, did you know that there are a lot of laws and provisions under the Constituiton which were derived from jurisprudence? The so-called Miranda rights” were formerly part of the US jurisprudence then later on adopted and written under the US COnstitution. The framers of our COnstitution adoted the same to ‘institutionalize’ the said doctrine.

    I have seen the ANC interview mentioned by Jonas. I heard what Ms Bengzon said when asked to define what “reponsible” means. The woman is a lawyer and she only answered the question in a lawyer’s point of view.

    Mr. Jonas, do you know that there are a lot of terms under our present Constitution that are left undefined by its framers so as to conform with the ever changing circumstances of our time? Take for example the word “social justice”. The 1987 Constitution even provides for a separate article (Article XIII) on this topic, yet, nowehere under the said Constitution can you find the exact definition of the term. It is only the Supreme Court who defines what social justice means according to existing circumstances.

    The word “responsible” is a very relative term. It is akin to the words “beautiful”, “freedom” , etc. It would be more curtailing if the ConCom provided for its exact definition because our COurts in applying the term would be limited to such definition.

    I hope we could be more critical in thinking and not just heed to our emotions. In the situation where we are in nowadays, it requires more critical thinking than just pure emotions. Walang personalan isyu lang.

  21. taong nagiisip - January 25, 2006 5:18 pm

    urgie taga NEW YORK ka ba talaga? bakit panay wrong grammar ka? nagtatanong lang po…

  22. honey - January 25, 2006 5:19 pm

    urgie taga NEW YORK ka ba talaga? Bakit panay wrong grammar ka? nagtatanong lang po…

  23. Anchet - January 25, 2006 5:42 pm

    Buking kayo “taong nagiisip” kuno at Honey: iisa lang kayo. iniiba-iba lang ninyo ang pangalan nyo. Kasama ba kayo sa internet, text at call-in brigade ng Malacañang?

  24. Anchet - January 25, 2006 5:45 pm

    Sa ulit-ulit, taong nagiisip kuno/Honey, ibahin nyo naman ang sentence para hindi kayo buking.

  25. Ellen - May 17, 2006 7:43 pm

    Uphold press freedom!

  26. johnmarzan - June 4, 2006 1:06 am


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