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IBP willing to launch anti-corruption protests

December 20, 2007 12:28pm
The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) is prepared to stage street protests to express the "growing anger" of lawyers over controversies pestering the Arroyo's administration, its president said Thursday.

IBP president Feliciano Bautista told GMANews.TV that if the need arises, he and his colleagues will troop to the streets to condemn what it called the pervading culture of corruption, dishonesty, and deceit in government.

"We are ready. If we have to go to the streets we'll do it. We can't remain silent and neutral," Bautista said in a phone interview on Thursday morning.

The IBP president added that the group's membership around the country is also prepared to face the repercussions of releasing a statement of concern that saw print Thursday on a major broadsheet.

"We are ready to face the adverse consequences of our actions. We've done our part," said Bautista.

He added that their decision to release the statement was the consensus of the nine members of the IBP Board of Governors.

Aside from Bautista, other undersigned lawyers were IBP governors Abelardo Estrada, Ernesto Gonzales Jr, Marcial Magsino, Bonifacio Barandon Jr, Evergisto Escalon, Raymond Jorge Mercado, Ramon Edison Batacan and Carlos Valdez Jr.

In the statement published in a national newspaper Thursday, the IBP enumerated several controversies that recently rocked the administration, including alleged incidents of election fraud, "ghost projects" like the national broadband network deal with ZTE Corp. of China, as well as the Palace cash gifts scandal.

The IBP president said the statement, which had also appeared earlier in the week in another national broadsheet newspaper, was just a practice of their freedom of expression even as he encouraged Filipinos to also voice their sentiments against President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo's rule.

The lawyers organization said in its statement that, "We need to act now. We challenge the Filipino citizenry to channel their rightful indignation and disappointment into legal means of expression."

For now, Bautista said the IBP will first be sticking with their published statement of concern and has yet to convene on any further movements.

"We will be making other concrete moves. But right now, we're just stating our concern," said Bautista.

Bautista also said that even though they share the same sentiments with the Magdalo soldiers in denouncing the ills of the Arroyo administration, he said the soldiers's actions during the Makati standoff last November 29 was not in accordance to law.

"We do not condone what the Magdalo soldiers did but we support them and the government should address the soldiers's problems," he said, adding that rallies are among the "legal" alternatives.

Bautista said, "The means that [the soldiers] resorted to was illegal. I think that what they did was just an expression of their frustration against the government." - GMANews.TV