Privilege Speech of Davao City councilor Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad

Jul. 22, 2008

Privilege Speech of Davao City councilor Atty. Angela Librado-Trinidad

Chairperson, SP Committee on Women & Children

After a reported incident involving three unidentified men who insisted on entering the premises of our residence in Matina last June 24, 2008, I stand here today, on a matter of personal and also collective privilege to speak of political intimidation and issues on personal security.

As a city councilor, I am fully aware that I am a public figure and hence, it is customary and to the nature of the position I am holding for more than 7 years, to have visitors, or even constituents to approach me on any matter that concerns them. It has been made clear that any business or transaction with me is in the spirit of seeking my assistance, legal or otherwise.

However, last June 24, 2008, three unidentified men aboard a vehicle with no plate number attempted to enter our home without disclosing their real intent or purpose. As I was not at home that time, the incident is enough to cause alarm on my part since prior to this, my driver has been noticing suspicious vehicles tailing, which prompted me to request from the Davao City police office for security personnel to be detailed to me on official trips.

With this latest incident, I am compelled to entertain all requests and visitors at my office here in the sangguniang panlungsod (city council) building.

I regret that our home will no longer be open to entertain concerns of any kind despite the fact that I am a public official as the latest incident has caused discomfort on the part of my family and household. However, my office at the sangguniang panlungsod is open at all times, from Mondays to Fridays, to attend to concerns of the public I have sworn to serve to the best of my capacity.

This move of clarifying my visiting policy is apparently for the purpose of safeguarding/protecting my family’s interests and well-being, aside from my own. And I have reason to believe, that because of my involvement in Bayan Muna, I could be a possible target for political threat, intimidation or worse, harassment.

I further state that personal visits made at home, especially by men whose identities are questionable and appearances are suspicious could be considered risks on personal security and a patent attempt to send a message which can be politically-motivated.

In this condition of escalating political repression and state harassment, human rights violations and development aggression are not new and are salient features of the present period. And so are extra-judicial killings and enforced disappearances, as the state’s proclivity for constricting civil liberties are in full force and effect to destroy all whom they perceive to be terrorists, communists or simply rebellious individuals or threats to their interests.

The decision of the Supreme Court’s Second Division in the case of Beltran, et al (or the popular Batasan 6) v. Gonzalez, et al is an important ruling in the campaign for the protection of civil liberties. As I am a long member of Bayan Muna, a progressive political party, I have reasons to assert that the government is indeed bent on filing trumped-up rebellion charges against leaders and members of progressive organizations. As the continued political harassment and repression of progressive leaders has not dwindled, and even lately, led to the killing of peasant group leader Celso Pojas, such incidents are clearly another jab at our civil liberties. reports that in late 2005 up to 2006 the Arroyo government tried to curtail the freedom of speech and assembly through the calibrated preemptive response (CPR), silence the media through the issuance of guidelines by the Philippine National Police (PNP), and twist and bend its laws and legal procedures to run after its critics especially from the legal left. It also tried to impose an illegal curfew in 2007. And now, with the anti-terrorism law, euphemistically called Human Security Act of 2007, in place, a national ID system would be the last nail that would seal the fate of our civil liberties and human rights. The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is not even hiding the real reasons behind the government’s moves to implement the national ID system; it is for counter-insurgency. And when the Arroyo government implements something in the name of counter-insurgency, we might as well kiss our human rights and civil liberties goodbye.

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