Tuesday, April 04, 2006

SC tackles CPR

Chief Justice says CPR is "not in the law"

At the end of the almost seven hours of oral arguments, a glimmer of hope shone for the petitioners against the controversial Calibrated Pre-emptive Response (CPR).

Chief Justice Artemio Panganiban in wrapping up the arguments told Solicitor General Eduardo Antonio Nachura if the CPR replaced the maximum tolerance policy.

Nachura said that the CPR merely enforces that policy and does not replace it.

"Will Sec. Ermita mind then, if we strike it out in the lawyer's vocabulary? It's out of place. It's not in the law," Panganiban said.

Nachura said no and said he was amenable to it.

But Atty. Theodore Te, counsel for petitioner Kilusan Para sa Pambansang Demokrasya, was not thrilled.

"B.P. 880 is still there, " Te said.

Te has reasons to be discouraged.

Justices of the Supreme Court seemed to be hostile towards Te who argued that B.P. 880 is a violation of the people's right to peacably assemble and the freedom of expression.

"It is a protected right," Te said.

But Associate Justice Leonardo Quisumbing quizzed Te whether the government has the right to protect itself using B.P. 880 and the CPR especially when rallies tend to call for the "destruction of the government."

"Assuming that government officials are convinced that the intent is the destruction of the government, can it not use it as a defense?" Quisumbing asked.

"If they're calling for the ouster of an administration, that's not destruction of the government. They are merely exercising their right to petition the government for redress of their grievances," Te answered.

But Associate Justice Angelina Sandoval-Gutierrez would not let up.

"If you don't want permits, how can you be so sure that there will be no anarchy?" Gutierrez asked.

But Te said, history would show that rallies have not deteriorated as such and that under B.P. 880, rallies are prohibited even before the content is determined when it should be that local government officials such as mayors only has to approve the rally.

The Supreme Court has given both parties until April 17 to submit the memoranda after which the issue is deemed submitted for resolution.

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