Cory: Is this another form of martial law?

- Sandy Araneta () - February 26, 2006 - 12:00am
Former President Corazon Aquino slammed President Arroyo yesterday for declaring a state of national emergency last Friday, and branded the proclamation as martial law by another name.

"That’s why I was asking what is this emergency act all about? Is it another name for martial law?" Mrs. Aquino told the media yesterday.

The former president criticized the President for making the declaration, calling it unjustified.

Mrs. Aquino made the statement after leading opposition leaders in celebration of the EDSA 1 people power revolt that ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos and installed her to power 20 years ago.

In an interview after the Mass held at the EDSA Shrine in Mandaluyong City, the former leader called on Filipinos to work together to restore democracy in the country.

"Let us all work hard and sacrifice in order to restore our democracy. I hope we can all work together to preserve that democracy and to strengthen the democracy," she said.

The country’s first woman president also graced the unveiling of a memorial portrait of Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin at the EDSA Shrine’s Nuns Quarters.

Aquino said Sin played the leading role in EDSA I by rallying the public to defend the key players of the peaceful revolution, among them former President Fidel Ramos, then the chief of the defunct Philippine Constabulary-Integrated National Police.

"I would like to have a special remembrance of (Sin) who was very instrumental in getting the people to go to EDSA. Let us remember Cardinal Sin, remember all the Filipino people who sacrificed hard, who kept things very peaceful in order to bring us the freedom that we enjoy now," Aquino said.

Ramos separately joined Mrs. Arroyo’s critics, telling reporters he "was appalled and dismayed" by the declaration.

Ramos accused Mrs. Arroyo of "killing the spirit" of the "people power" revolt that toppled Marcos 20 years ago to the day.

He said he didn’t believe the declaration was justified because no actual coup attempt had taken place, and that Mrs. Arroyo had "overreacted."

Ramos, however, stopped short of calling for Mrs. Arroyo’s resignation, as Aquino has repeatedly done.

Aquino, the icon of the 1986 revolution who restored democracy in the Philippines, led a street protest last Friday during which she urged Mrs. Arroyo to step down. Ramos and Aquino sat together at the Mass at the EDSA Shrine yesterday.

Last Friday was one of the toughest and longest days yet for Mrs. Arroyo, who has already withstood two coup attempts and numerous other crises during her five tumultuous years in power.

Ramos stood by Mrs. Arroyo at the height of resignation calls last July 8 amid accusations of cheating in the May 10, 2004 elections.

On the same day, Aquino joined the opposition calling on Mrs. Arroyo to resign, just as many of her Cabinet members had.

The "Hyatt 10," Mrs. Arroyo’s erstwhile Cabinet members, also took the opportunity yesterday to reiterate their call for the President to step down.

Members of the Hyatt 10 include former secretaries Florencio Abad of education, Corazon "Dinky" Soliman of social welfare and development, and Teresita Deles, adviser on the peace process.

In a prepared statement, they said the declaration of a state of emergency "was the biggest blow to our democracy and further exposes President Arroyo’s desire to hold on to power.

"The only way to move forward is for Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to make the supreme sacrifice and resign," the group said.

For her part, Akbayan Rep. Rizza Hontiveros claimed the proclamation had exposed an amazing arrogance and brutality in the Arroyo administration.

"We will still call upon the (military) and (the police) not to recognize and not to enforce this unconstitutional and illegal Proclamation 1017, but as institutions and individuals to respect our hard-fought democratic struggle and the hard-won democratic gains we are trying to preserve," Hontiveros said. With AP

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