BINAY URGES OBAMA TO WARN ARROYO VS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS, EFFORTS TO AMEND CONSTITUTION

PRESS RELEASE
29 JULY 2009
REF: JOEY SALGADO

Makati Mayor and United Opposition (UNO) president Jejomar C. Binay today urged US President Barack Obama to sternly remind Mrs. Arroyo that his government will not support violations of human rights and efforts to amend the Philippine Constitution intended to allow Mrs. Arroyo to stay in power beyond 2010.

“These reminders will be consistent with the stated policy of the Obama administration, which have been made reiterated by the US President in his recent policy statements to foreign governments,” he said.

Binay cited Obama’s recent speech before the parliament of Ghana , where the US president warned against the scourge of corruption and tyranny.

In that speech, President Obama criticized leaders “who exploit the economy to enrich themselves” and governments “where the rule of law gives way to the rule of brutality and bribery.”

“Those words describe the situation that we have under the administration of Mrs. Arroyo,” he said.

The opposition leader said he is hopeful Obama will not back efforts by Mrs. Arroyo to extend her hold on power even if she offers the reopening of US military bases in the Philippines .

With Charter change still high on the administration’s agenda, Binay said Arroyo’s congressional allies could move to lift the constitutional ban on US military bases in the country, alongside a shift to the parliamentary form of government, where Mrs. Arroyo intends to become prime minister.

PDP-Laban President Jojo Binay

Foreign observers have said the Philippines has become more strategic to the US in view of the growing influence of China in the region.

The Makati mayor is among several prominent personalities – former senators, Cabinet members, Church and civil society leaders and a retired justice – who released an open letter to the US president Wednesday.

“Upon your invitation, President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo will have the chance to meet with you on July 30 2009. In your meeting with Mrs. Arroyo, it may serve you well to be mindful of Mrs. Arroyo’s legacy of corruption, extra judicial killings, enforced disappearances, torture, bribery, election cheating and others. We do not wish to belabor you with the details of these high crimes which have been sufficiently documented and reported by the US State Department to your Office,” the letter said.

“In your meetings with Mrs. Arroyo, we feel confident that you will make clear to her that a government that does not comply with the principles of democracy and respect for human rights cannot have the approval and support of your administration. We implore you Mr. President to inspire hope and be an instrument of change for the common good of the long suffering Filipino people,” it added.

Aside from Binay, other signatories to the open letter are former Vice President Teofisto Guingona, former Senate President Jovito Salonga, former Senate President Franklin Drilon, former Supreme Court Justice Camilo Quiazon, former senators Wigberto Tanada, Sergio Osmena III, Vicente Paterno, and Agapito Aquino, former DOTC Secretary Josefina Lichauco, former solicitor general Frank Chavez, former DSWD Secretary Dinky Soliman, former DTI Secretary Juan Santos, Bro. Eddie Villanueva, Sr. Mary John Mananzan, Atty. Harry Roque, and NBN-ZTE whistleblower Jun Lozada.

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