Thursday, April 27, 2006

CPR is maximum tolerance? Oh yeah, like 1 + 1 = 3

CPR is maximum tolerance -- That was the official line of defense that the Government presented to the Supreme Court in the decision about the constutionality of the "Calibrated Pre-emptive Response" policy of the Government in dealing with protestors. How the Government could spin that tale to the Supreme Court is an amazing act of legal wizardry, nay voodooism.

Consider the plain and simple denotative meaning of the words, "calibrated" "pre-emptive" "response". Calibrated means calculated, planned, and pre-meditated. Pre-emptive means to prevent something by disabling the enemy beforehand, as in pre-emptive strike. A response is a reaction to something. In other words, calibrated preemptive response is a planned and preventive strike before the other side could act. In Filipino, "unahan and kalaban". In Rambo terms, it means" First Blood". If you examine the context during which the policy was announced --i.e., the "tired of chasing the bully in the schoolyard" speech -- it was an abandonment of the "maximum tolerance" policy that even the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos officially honored and passed into law under B.P. 880. Sec. Eduardo Ermita in an official declaraiton as quoted by the Supreme Court said,

On Unlawful Mass Actions

In view of intelligence reports pointing to credible plans of anti-government groups to inflame the political situation, sow disorder and incite people against the duty constituted authorities, we have instructed the PNP as well as the local government units to strictly enforce a “no permit, no rally” policy, disperse groups that run afoul of this standard and arrest all persons violating the laws of the land as well as ordinances on the proper conduct of mass actions and demonstrations.

The rule of calibrated preemptive response is now in force, in lieu of maximum tolerance. The authorities will not stand aside while those with ill intent are herding a witting or unwitting mass of people and inciting them into actions that are inimical to public order, and the peace of mind of the national community.

Unlawful mass actions will be dispersed. The majority of law-abiding citizens have the right to be protected by a vigilant and proactive government.

We appeal to the detractors of the government to engage in lawful and peaceful conduct befitting of a democratic society.

The President’s call for unity and reconciliation stands, based on the rule of law.

The key sentence is "The rule of calibrated preemptive response is now in force, in lieu of maximum tolerance." In layman's terms, "maximum tolerance" goes out the door. CPR goes in.

So how did the Government theorize that CPR is also maximum tolerance? The ponente of CPR decision, Justice Adolfo Azcuna thankfully quoted the affidavit of the same Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita so the world and Filipinos of all ages could forever remember this myth:

The Court now comes to the matter of the CPR. As stated earlier, the Solicitor General has conceded that the use of the term should now be discontinued, since it does not mean anything other than the maximum tolerance policy set forth in B.P. No. 880. This is stated in the Affidavit of respondent Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita, submitted by the Solicitor General, thus:

14. The truth of the matter is the policy of “calibrated preemptive response” is in consonance with the legal definition of “maximum tolerance” under Section 3 (c) of B.P. Blg. 880, which is the “highest degree of restraint that the military, police and other peacekeeping authorities shall observe during a public assembly or in the dispersal of the same.” Unfortunately, however, the phrase “maximum tolerance” has acquired a different meaning over the years. Many have taken it to mean inaction on the part of law enforcers even in the face of mayhem and serious threats to public order. More so, other felt that they need not bother secure a permit when holding rallies thinking this would be “tolerated.” Clearly, the popular connotation of “maximum tolerance” has departed from its real essence under B.P. Blg. 880.

15. It should be emphasized that the policy of maximum tolerance is provided under the same law which requires all pubic assemblies to have a permit, which allows the dispersal of rallies without a permit, and which recognizes certain instances when water cannons may be used. This could only mean that “maximum tolerance” is not in conflict with a “no permit, no rally policy” or with the dispersal and use of water cannons under certain circumstances for indeed, the maximum amount of tolerance required is dependent on how peaceful or unruly a mass action is. Our law enforcers should calibrate their response based on the circumstances on the ground with the view to preempting the outbreak of violence.

16. Thus, when I stated that calibrated preemptive response is being enforced in lieu of maximum tolerance I clearly was not referring to its legal definition but to the distorted and much abused definition that it has now acquired. I only wanted to disabuse the minds of the public from the notion that law enforcers would shirk their responsibility of keeping the peace even when confronted with dangerously threatening behavior. I wanted to send a message that we would no longer be lax in enforcing the law but would henceforth follow it to the letter. Thus I said, “we have instructed the PNP as well as the local government units to strictly enforce a no permit, no rally policy . . . arrest all persons violating the laws of the land . . . unlawful mass actions will be dispersed.” None of these is at loggerheads with the letter and spirit of Batas Pambansa Blg. 880. It is thus absurd for complainants to even claim that I ordered my co-respondents to violate any law.[25]

At any rate, the Court rules that in view of the maximum tolerance mandated by B.P. No. 880, CPR serves no valid purpose if it means the same thing as maximum tolerance and is illegal if it means something else.

Now, isn't that such a nice trick of legal voodooism? I could almost imagine Sec. Ermita scratching his head and saying, "CPR is the same as maximim tolerance" as he turns around winking. Sec. Ermita is one lucky fellow, for Justice Azcuna is one of the most polite and eloquent jurists around. If I were the ponente in this case, I would have declared Ermita in contempt of court, and sent him to jail with the added task of copying 1,000,000 times in long hand the meaning of the words "calibrated" "preemptive" "response" as defined in all the dictionaries of the Malacanang library. But that was never Justice Azcuna's style.

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