‘Creeping authoritarianism’ seen in GMA executive order


By Christina Mendez and Michael Punongbayan
Tuesday, September 23, 2008

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Sen. Manuel Roxas II warned yesterday of “creeping authoritarianism” with President Arroyo’s signing last month of an executive order reorganizing the National Peace and Order Council.

Opposition politicians joined Roxas in warning of the “chilling effect” of Executive Order 739, which reportedly grants sweeping powers to Interior Secretary Ronaldo Puno in enforcing security laws, including imposing sanctions on local executives seen as not kowtowing to Malacañang.

“This is creepy,” Roxas said.

“What really is the new power of Secretary Puno for? Is it to help keep peace and fight the rebels or is it preparation for emergency rule?” Roxas asked in Filipino.

Roxas said there is basis for the warning of former defense secretary Avelino Cruz Jr. of the possibility that Malacañang might use the armed hostilities in Mindanao to justify the declaration of a state of emergency.

“The reorganization of this NPOC, which resembles the martial law era Peace and Order Council, seems to bring back the same climate of fear, suspicion and surveillance that led to extrajudicial killings and other human rights abuses under martial law,” he said.

Under the reorganized NPOC, the POCs in the regional, provincial, city and municipal levels are tasked to “apply moral suasion to and/or recommend sanctions against local chief executives who are giving material and political support to the communist rebels.”

For Makati City Mayor Jejomar Binay of the United Opposition, the Arroyo administration used the “communist bogey to justify the signing of Executive Order 739 that effectively neutralizes local executives and strengthens the hand of internal security forces at the local level.”

Sought for comment, Puno laughed off the allegations.

“Some people are getting concerned over something that is not really that big a deal. What an executive order can only do is to delegate the authority of the President,” Puno said at a press briefing at the Philippine National Police headquarters in Camp Crame.  — With Cecille Suerte Felipe

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My Take:

This is not a simple authoritarian rule move.  This is the only solution left for the administration to survive the biggest political losses it will incur come 2010 polls.

Now they are employing a single stone to get the two birds on their sight: the parliamentary of streets (which they tag as rebel fronts) and the traditinal political opposition (who has the real capacity to take back Malacañan on 2010).

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