The Governments policy of "calibrated preemptive response" to people peaceably assembling to rightfully petition their government to redress their grievances was demonstrated yesterday when 13 people were jailed even before they have assembled.
I do not know who in government crafted this policy but they are making a big mistake. Yes, people were complaining that the constant rallies by the anti-Arroyo organizations were creating traffic, a sign that people want to go on with their lives. But it does not mean they want government to bash in people's head when they are doing nothing wrong.
If President Arroyo gets little sympathy before, she will definitely not get any now.
Speaking of sympathy. Let me be clear, the reason for Secretary Norberto Gonzales' appearance in the Senate was silly. The venable contract was a contract between the Philippine Government and Venable to lobby the US government for funding on different government interests including the changing of the Philippine Constitution. I can appreciate Senator Arroyo's position that, the Philippine government should not solicit funds from foreign government specially when it comes to issues of sovereignty. But it is not illegal, furthermore, the contract was rescinded so the Senate should have tackled more important issues.
Saying that however, whether the Senators were arrogant and boorish in questioning Secretary Gonzales, he had no right not to answer legitimate questions from the Senate committee.
I can symphatize with Secretary Gonzales' position that he does not want to reveal to the Senate committee the names of the private individual/s who recommended Venable to the government. I would not want my friends and most of my enemies to experience what Sec. Gonzales experienced at the hands of the Senate Committee, but that reason is not enough, the private individual/s whoever he/she/they are, chose to commit a public act, recommending a lobby firm to the Philipppine government, as such they cannot hide behind being private individuals, otherwise, how can we get accountability from government?
And how can Secretary Gonzales not know who paid Venable? The contract was between the Philippine Government and Venable, the Philippine government should be aware where the funds would be coming from, otherwise, this can be a source of corruption, enter into a contract with some firm, let somebody else pay them, kickback to yourself. Not knowing who paid, if he really did not know, is plain stupidity, he was the signee, he is the one responsible, how can he fail to find out one of the most important details of the whole transaction?
To recap, I symphatize with the plight of Secretary Gonzales but the Senate had no other choice but to cite him in contempt.