By National Union of Peoples' Lawyers
The recent wild claims of President Duterte that legal mass organizations like PISTON, KMU, KARAPATAN ang others were committing rebellion when they staged or supported the nationwide strike by jeepney drivers protesting the anti-poor “modernization/corporitization” phase-out is ludicrous if it were not perilous.
The legitimate and valid exercise of peaceful collective action and freedom of speech and assembly cannot by any convoluted reading amount to any crime, much less rebellion.
As early as first year of law school, we were present in class and read, memorized, analyzed, understood and recited rebellion as “rising and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives” (Article 134, Revised Penal Code of the Philippines of 1930, as amended by Republic Act No. 6968 of 1990).
Even a perfunctory reading of the law by a layman would disclose that the elements of the crime do not exist at all. To belabor the obvious is to dignify a distorted and contorted legal inanity.
Aside from unilaterally revising the law and reinterpreting it to suit one’s draconian fetishes, to label legitimate and legal people’s actions is a foreboding of worse things to come.
We remember Marcos and GMA [former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo] when they routinely charged activists, dissenters and critics with the political offense of rebellion to silence, intimidate or punish them.
It is bad enough that political prisoners are routinely charged with non-bailable common crimes instead of the proper legal charge of rebellion. It is manifoldly worse that poor and hungry jeepney drivers and their supporters will be accused or charged with “rising and taking arms” when all they did was raise their flags, placards and fists.#