Buencamino is a fellow of Action for Economic Reforms. This was published in the November 12 edition of the Business Mirror, page A4.

I didn’t know common sense remarks could be characterized as words that “bordered on seditious utterances.” But that’s exactly how the Justice Secretary described a statement from Jaro Archbishop Angel Lagdameo and four other prelates.

The statement— “The time to prepare a new government is now. The time to start radical reforms is now. The time for moral regeneration is now. The time to conquer complacency, cynicism and apathy and to prove that we matured from our political disappointments is now. Not in 2010 but now.”— is a reasonable response to the question “what have eight years of Gloria Arroyo’s economic management and commitment to stamp out corruption accomplished?”

The country is fifth in the global survey on hunger and 11th in the world’s honor roll of corruption.  Medical care is beyond the reach of ordinary folk. Education is only for those who can afford it. Millions have to go abroad to find a job or a decent wage. And those who complain are abducted, tortured, or killed.

Is it unreasonable then of Bishop Lagdameo to ask, “If we are not horrified, disgusted, exasperated and enraged by these realities, can we still say we love our country?”

A month ago, the Supreme Court affirmed the finding of an appellate court that Gen. Jovito Palaparan (ret.) was involved in the abduction, detention, and torture of two brothers thought to be members or sympathizers of the New People’s Army. What has the Department of Justice done about Palparan?

Last September, the Executive Secretary said he saw the wisdom behind the government’s proposal to “move for a deferment for about three to five more years from the date of ratification, our country’s implementation of its obligations as a state party to the OPCAT (Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture).” Is torture so widespread in this government that it needs at least three to five years to stop it? So what do we do in the meantime, lie back and enjoy it, applaud the glorification of the likes of Gen. Palparan?

Last February, the Philippine Information Agency issued a press release saying, “President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo directed Thursday the Department of Justice (DOJ) to conduct an investigation to pinpoint those who may be held liable for violation of the procurement and anti-graft laws in connection with the cancelled national broadband network (NBN)-ZTE project.” Other than recommending charges against the whistleblower and his father, has the DOJ found anyone else to charge?

Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has avoided, evaded, and obstructed the threshing out of allegations of cheating, plunder, money laundering, and human rights violations by hiding and intimidating witnesses, making baseless claims of executive privilege, filing sham impeachment complaints, and doling out bribes. How much intelligence does it take to figure out something is wrong and something needs to be done about it right now?
The law should be applied to those who have made a mockery of our legal system and our Constitution. It shouldn’t be used to terrorize a bishop who railed against “overprized projects, multi-billion scams of various kinds, election manipulations, anomalous transactions, bribery of both high and low, unsolved murders of media practitioners.”

Has this country become so twisted it’s now criminal to speak out against wanton corruption and human rights violations and to call for an immediate change of leaders? Has 6 turned out to be 9?

There is an impeachment complaint pending before the Batasan. It contains a laundry list of allegations against Gloria Arroyo. Let’s give the complaint a fair and thorough hearing so we can find out, once and for all, who is the real criminal.