Akbayan Party lauds the passage of two Akbayan reforms today: the Free Education Law and the Anti-Hospital Deposit Law.
The Free Education Law provides free tuition for students who enroll in state universities and colleges (SUCs) and subsidy for private school students.
The Anti-Hospital Deposit Law strengthens law against hospitals imposing restrictions on patients who either can't pay or show proof of financial capacity.
Both laws are authored by Senator Risa Hontiveros and Cong Tom Villarin. These laws dismantle institutional and legal obstacles that keep these crucial social services away from the poor.
"Despite Duterte's attacks against the opposition, Akbayan has proven that it continues to win important reforms for the people," Akbayan Party President Machris Cabreros said.
"We are fulfilling what we have committed to do as a party by not only calling out excesses of this government especially against the poor but by also continuing to deliver key reforms that speaks of our hard work in both houses of Congress," Cabreros said.###
Privilege speech of Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tom Villarin
July 31, 2017
Madam Speaker, distinguished colleagues.
In his State of the Nation Address last July 24, 2017, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte criticized the Commission on Human Rights for looking at human rights from just one lens.
He said: "Do not make it a one-sided affair. I will not allow it. As President, I will not allow it. Patas tayo. Justice for all. What is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose. If you have not investigated the deaths of my police and military men, do not *#%% with us.”
President Duterte also defended the military on allegations of human rights abuses in areas where martial law is imposed. “There can never be a violation of martial law. Because even the killing itself is already a violation of human rights."
The proposal to issue identification cards to Muslim member of communities in Central Luzon is not only offensive to the faith, it also violates freedoms that individuals should enjoy regardless of their religion: right to movement, to privacy, of expression, to equal treatment before the law and the right to exercise their faith without fear of reprisal and being singled out.
This proposal, which the regional military and police officials admitted to media was aimed at rooting out terrorist elements, also perpetuates stereotypes against the Muslim community as violent, and a hotbed of terrorism.
It does not help when the president himself blames Muslims for allowing these terrorists to infiltrate areas like Marawi. Such victim blaming only worsens the oppression of othering and marginalization that Muslims face on a day to day basis in the Philippines.
It thus falls upon the Duterte administration to put its efforts into stopping these schemes that do not address the problem of terrorism and has only helped to escalate the violence and the body count. It should order the LGUs, the PNP and the AFP to desist from implementing the Muslim ID system or from replicating it anywhere in the country. It should lift ML in Mindanao which has proven inutile in staming down on the Maute terrorists.
We must remind our security forces that in our earnest zeal to pursue and defeat terrorists, that our responses be strategic and inclusive, sensitive to the beliefs of others, and unburdened by hatred and prejudice. Otherwise we risk running around in blood-soaked circles cycles while the terrorists succeed in dividing and making us live in fear of each other.
Akbayan Party today expressed utmost disappointment over the SC decision finding a legal basis for the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao.
"We were hoping the Supreme Court would be our last line of defense against a patently absurd decision built on a failure of intelligence and a rhetoric of violent machismo," said Akbayan President Machris Cabreros. "Instead they caved in and unwittingly opened the door to further creeping authoritarianism."
"AKBAYAN maintains that the Marawi incident does not merit the invokation of Martial Law," said Cabreros. "This iron-fisted response is disproportionate to the situation and will worsen inequalities in the region as more vulnerable Moros will again be left homeless and hungry."
Akbayan Chair Emeritus Etta Rosales and Akbayan youth leaders are among the petitioners who filed the case at the SC questioning the legality of ML.
"We must remember that Congress has not convened as well to publicly and officially concur or reject the declaration," she said. "The SC was the last of the available checks and balances to put a brake on this railroaded declaration and opens the door for its expansion nationwide."
"We did not lose to Duterte with this decision,, instead we lost the idea that in times of crisis we exhaust all democratic means before employing draconian measures," said Cabreros. "This is democracy backsliding in real time motion, and it comes in terms of human lives, with hundreds dead by now from bullets and diseases."
"It now falls on the Duterte administration to respect the rule of law and observe restraint in going after the Maute group in order to ensure minimal loss of lives," said Cabreros. "Duterte cannot afford to treat collateral damage as just another given."
"The decision will have the potential to aggravate human rights abuses in Mindanao if local operations are left unchecked," said Cabreros. "Which is why Akbayan Mindanao will be there on the ground guarding democratic rights."
"A militarized solution will never stamp out groups like the Maute terrorists," added Cabreros. "Only peace and development based on justice will bring a brighter future for Mindanao."
We resist invisibility brought by ignorance.
For far too long, LGBTQ+ Filipinos have been relegated to the fringes-- unable to be seen and heard by our fellow citizens. The State, whose duty is to protect all of us, continues to deny our existence by simply refusing to mention "sexual orientation and gender identity and expression" in policy-- an issue that the SOGIE Equality Bill seeks to address when it finally becomes enacted into law.
We resist violence borne out of hatred.
Our many scars show our struggles. Our sisters and brothers have been abused-- physically and emotionally. We have been ridiculed, maimed, and even murdered-- all because of fellow human beings who think that we are less than them. Our names are used as synonyms for cowardice, but with how we live our lives, we are braver and stronger than those who falsely believe that we are powerless and weak.
We resist hopelessness.
In all these, we remain steadfast and firm. Our minds and bodies may have been battered, but we are still able to stand and fight together with those who represent our voices in government-- led by Risa Hontiveros in the Senate and Tom Villarin and Kaka Bag-ao in the House, along with many others. As long as there is love in our hearts for our selves and for our partners in our struggle, our resistance will continue.
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