Monday, May 19, 2008

Youth groups slam arrest order for Bishop Cruz; Warn of early school opening protests if warrant served

May 14, 2008

Youth groups slam arrest order for Bishop Cruz
Warn of early school opening protests if warrant served

YOUTH ACT NOW! (Youth for Accountability and Truth Now!) expressed its strongest condemnation against the arrest order for Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Oscar Cruz on grounds of a resurrected four-year-old libel case.

YOUTH ACT Now! spokesperson Alvin Peters warned authorities against serving the warrant saying that the bishop's arrest would spark early school opening protests.

"We are yet again disgusted at how this administration sinks to the lowest of the low just to silence its critics. Bishop Cruz is a role model of youth and students and we admire him for standing up to his convictions despite political harassment," said Peters.

Peters said, "If they dare arrest the good bishop, they'll be up against youth and students. Bishop Cruz once said in a gathering that he decided to break his silence in order to inspire and propel the youth into collective action for truth, accountability and social change. He has likewise always had the youth's support."

Libel with neither rhyme nor reason
For his part, CEGP (College Editors' Guild of the Philippines) Spokesperson Vijae Alquizola likened the persecution of Bishop Cruz to the 45 libel cases filed by First Gentleman Mike Arroyo against members of the press. CEGP is a member of YOUTH ACT NOW!

In 2006, Arroyo filed a barrage of libel cases against journalists who reported his involvement in anomalies and commented on his actions. The journalists had since filed a civil case to counter Arroyo's allegations.

"This case is another clear attack on freedom of expression. Like the other 45 libel cases, FG Mike Arroyo is once again involved. Where in the world can you find no less than the DOJ assaulting the rights of an elderly and respectable bishop just because he managed to annoy some very influential people? Only in the Philippines," Alquizola said.

Alquizola said that CEGP is a signatory of a petition calling for the de-criminalization of libel. "We simply cannot allow the likes of Arroyos and Gonzalezes freely brandishing out libel cases against known critics of the government with neither rhyme nor reason."

Alquizola cited that the United States had since de-criminalized libel since 1963.

Meanwhile, YOUTH ACT NOW! committed to support Bishop Cruz if he so decides to file a libel case against DOJ Sec. Raul Gonzalez. "He should be given a taste of his own medicine." ###

Reference: Alvin Peters, Spokesperson, 09206209362

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