Buencamino does political commentary for the NGO Action for Economic Reforms. This article was published in the Opinion Section, Yellow Pad Column of BusinessWorld, December 26, 2005 edition, page S1/5.

Raul Gonzalez and his SWAT Team of prosecutors are charging Gen. Fortunato Abat and associates with inciting to sedition. Gonzales, for those who still don’t know who he is and what he does for a living, lawyers for the group of Gloria Arroyo, another presumptuous claimant to the presidency.

Gonzalez’s office explained that Abat’s group was liable under the “dangerous tendency rule.” That rule—according to someone who actually reads and understands constitutions, Fr. Joaquin Bernas—has a “colonial precursor.”

Fr. Bernas cites a 1922 case involving a certain Isaac Perez of Sorsogon who was convicted of inciting to sedition. Apparently, Perez, who didn’t like then Governor- General Wood, said, “Filipinos must use bolos for cutting off Wood’s head.”  Consequently, the occupation government represented by General Wood found “a seditious tendency in the words used, which could easily produce disaffection among the people and a state of feeling incompatible with a disposition to remain loyal to the government and obedient to the laws.” Now listen to what an agent of another occupation government has to say, “It is true that they (Abat and company) did not commit seditious acts, but they uttered seditious words.” Eerie similarity, don’t you think?

Gen. Abat and his associates were arrested without a warrant of arrest. PNP spokesman Leopoldo Batoil said his policemen made a “citizen’s arrest,” meaning his cops were dressed in civilian clothes when they made the arrest. Well, if a man puts on a dress, does that make him a woman? No, it just makes him a cross-dresser, just like Batoil’s cops who dressed up as civilians.

Anyway, we shouldn’t make fun of Gloria’s cross-dressers; after all, Abat did say: “Gloria, step down….You have no moral authority to govern….This government should not last a second more.”

Those cops dressed up as civilians had no choice but to act swiftly and thoroughly, lest the public translate Abat’s words into action. Gloria’s cross-dressers recovered several vital pieces of evidence after a two-hour search that of course was conducted without a search warrant. They walked away with the following: banners with the words “Gloria Step Down,” “Tanggapan ng Bagong Pamahalaan” and “Luklukan ng Bagong Pamahalaan,” two dozen miniature Philippine flags, an official Philippine flag, and
“We Love Gen. Abat” stickers.

Gonzalez now possesses proof that Abat and his men were out to topple the government. However, to paraphrase Congressman Edcel Lagman, “Gonzalez has a prejudicial question to answer before he can proceed against Abat. He must first prove that his government is a legitimate government.” Hey, maybe Abat shouldn’t even think of filing charges of illegal arrest and arbitrary detention against those cross-dressers and their kustoreras. Maybe he should ask: “Are those people following lawful orders from a legitimate president?” I bet he can turn things around and charge all of them with sedition and treason instead.

Anyway, I think Abat is the wrong target. The ones who really fall under the dangerous tendency rule are those Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) employees who didn’t smile at Mrs. Arroyo when she was waiting at the NAIA presidential lounge for her flight to the APEC forum in South Korea.

Those unsmiling NAIA employees exhibited a dangerous tendency to frown and we all know where that tendency can lead: EDSA, Mendiola and a “French leave” by the chiefs of the armed services and the police. That, not Abat, is what should frighten the seditious group led by Mrs. Arroyo.