Youth groups support Abp. Cruz, lambast move to “silence”government’s number one critic

MANILA, May 14, 2008—Militant youth alliance, Youth for Accountability and Truth Now! (YOUTH ACT NOW!) condemns the arrest order issued by the Manila Regional Trial Court against Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar V. Cruz, D.D. for the “resurrected” libel case which 20 female employees of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (PAGCOR) filed against the prelate in 2004.

Alvin Peters, spokesperson of YOUTH ACT NOW!, told CBCPNews that the pending arrest of the good archbishop is yet another dirty tactics of the Macapagal-Arroyo government to silence its critics.

“We are yet again disgusted at how this administration sinks to the lowest of the low just to silence its critics. Bishop Cruz is a role model of youth and students and we admire him for standing up to his convictions despite political harassment,” said Peters.

“If they dare arrest the good bishop, they’ll be up against youth and students. Bishop Cruz once said in a gathering that he decided to break his silence in order to inspire and propel the youth into collective action for truth, accountability and social change. He has likewise always had the youth’s support,” he added.

On the other hand, College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP), the oldest and prestigious organization of college and university publications in the Philippines also announced their support for Archbishop Cruz.

“The case is just another harassment against those people who expose the rottenness of this government,” explains CEGP spokesperson Vijae Alquizola.

He compared the present libel case against the prelate with the 2006 “libel case filing spree” made by the First Gentlemen, Atty. Juan Miguel Arroyo against 26 journalists from different mainstream publications.

“This case is another clear attack on freedom of expression. Like the other 45 libel cases, FG Mike Arroyo is once again involved. Where in the world can you find no less than the DOJ assaulting the rights of an elderly and respectable bishop just because he managed to annoy some very influential people? Only in the Philippines,” Alquizola said.

He also said that they cannot simply allow the likes of Arroyos and Gonzalezes to go on freely brandishing out libel cases against known critics of the government with neither rhyme nor reason.

The groups said that they will push for the decriminalization of libel so that it cannot be used by the authorities as a tool against its critics.

Meanwhile, YOUTH ACT NOW! committed to support Archbishop Cruz if he so decides to file a libel case against DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzalez.

“He should be given a taste of his own medicine,” ends Peters. (CBCPNews)

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