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Philippines Update

May 5, 2006

  • Congresswoman Liza Maza and Tita Lubi, of the Gabriela Women's Party (GWP) have been formally charged with rebellion, along with 46 others.  Among the acts for which the 48 are being held responsible was the 1971 Plaza Miranda bombing that nearly wiped out all the political opponents of then President Ferdinand E. Marcos.  Maza was 14 years old at the time and two other accused congressmen, Teddy Casino and Joel Virador, were four and two years old.  Quite a puzzle, that one. 
  • The lead prosecutor in the rape case against the four US marines resigned to protest the downgrading of charges against three.  Today, the judge hearing the case reinstated the rape charges. 
  • At commencement exercises at the Cavite State University, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was heckled by graduating student Theresa Pangilinan who, in cap and gown, unfurled a banner and shouted for Macapagal-Arroyo's ouster.  The student is now being investigated by a government education committee. 
  • Pickets in support of the Gabriela Women's Party and GABRIELA were held in India, Indonesia, and Thailand.  In Portugal, women delegates from 17 countries at the Women's International Democratic Federation passed a resolution calling for the dropping of charges.  The GABRIELA Network USA-initiated petition ( <> ) for dropping charges against Maza and her co-accused has garnered an initial 5,000 signatures, with women from 23 countries and 40 US states signing. 
The rebellion charges are palpably designed to harass and persecute, rather than prosecute.  No specific acts of rebellion are cited against Maza and her congressional colleagues, nor against Lubi and the leaders of mass organizations.  They have been lumped together with one senator-cum-military-man, three lieutenants (hardly what coups are made of), people in exile overseas and people underground.    The fear is that warrants will be issued by a compromised judiciary, though people are hoping against hope, and since there is no bail for rebellion, Maza and the five congressmen, GWP's Tita Lubi and all the others who can be arrested will be imprisoned.  Those underground, like Greg Rosal, spokesperson of the New Peoples Army, cannot be arrested--at least, not easily.    The fear is justified, considering the case of the great Tagalog poet and union leader Amado V. Hernandez, who spent 8 years in prison in the 1950s before being acquitted.  He was a colleague of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Bouvoir.     Another fear is that this case will be used to extradite people in exile overseas, who are in genuine fear not only of persecution but of assassination.