QUEZON CITY – Akbayan Partylist, Akbayan Youth and other youth groups gathered Wednesday morning in front of the House of Representatives to protest against the chamber's recent decision to convene as a Committee of the Whole, instead of convening the constitutionally-mandated joint session with Senate. They slammed the Committee meeting which was held in an executive session, as another ploy to shield Duterte's martial law from public scrutiny.
"Why hold only a committee of the whole? It smacks of connivance with the unabashed authoritarianism championed by Duterte," said Cassie Deluria, Chairperson of Akbayan Youth UP Diliman and Councilor of the UP Diliman University Student Council.
"The recent move by congress robs the Filipino people of their right to scrutinize the martial law declaration. Our lawmakers must stop shielding the president's martial law from the scrutiny of the people they have sworn to represent," said Deluria.
The groups further tagged the committee meeting as a hollow attempt at compliance of the Congress supermajority led by the President's party, PDP-Laban, and warned that it will only legitimize the president's authoritarian measure.
"The Committee meeting provides a false sense of compliance by our legislators to their constitutional mandate to safeguard the people from abuse. Worse, it falsely portrays as legal and legitimate the President's draconian policy," warned Karla Yu, convener of Millennials Against Dictators (MAD).
The youth groups appealed to Congress not to renegade on their responsibility to the Constitution and the Filipino people and immediately convene a joint session with the Senate.
“Congress still has a chance to stand by the mandate that the Constitution has thrust upon them, and immediately convene the joint session. They must resist the urge to drown the voices of dissent through the tyranny of the supermajority. Refusal to do so is a betrayal of public trust and a mockery of our democracy,” Yu added.
Finally, the youth leaders cautioned Congress from falling for the dangerous rhetoric that martial law will bring peace in Mindanao.
“The pursuit of peace in Mindanao must not come at the expense of exposing civilians to human rights violations. Fear cannot be the solution to terror, and lasting peace is never born out of tyranny,” said Deluria.
"We challenge our elected representatives to stand against both terrorism and authoritarianism, to choose the people and uphold democracy. Their allegiance to the President must always come second to their commitment to the Filipino people." concluded Deluria.
The youth groups were led by Akbayan Youth, Student Council Alliance of the Philippines (SCAP), Millennials Against Dictators (MAD), and UP ALYANSA. They were joined by other concerned citizens' groups and individuals. ###