On Independence Day, Akbayan Party-list called on the Filipino people to remain steadfast in fighting for their rights, freedoms, and liberties, as a climate of fear and repression looms over the entire nation.
"Today, we remember that our national independence was brought about not by giving into fear but by holding onto the hope for a better tomorrow. That was how our heroes fought then. That is how we fight now," said Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin.
A week earlier, Villarin, together with members of the "Magnificent 7" in the Lower House, filed a petition before the Supreme Court to order the lifting of President Duterte's declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao due to insufficient factual basis.
"The bold solution is not always a military-only solution. The complex and historical problem in Mindanao can be effectively solved by laying down arms and inducing real development, not just through countless raids and airstrikes" said the Mindanaoan lawmaker, who had previously worked with different organizations.
Meanwhile, Akbayan President Machris Cabreros warned against the deliberate use of fear that could possibly trigger the imposition of martial on a national scale.
"Now more than ever, we must stand guard and be vigilant against forces that are willing to do everything sow doubt and fear, even if it means manufacturing stories and fabricating lies to further their interests," Cabreros said.
This is in light of recent attempts of critics in social media, who purportedly support President Duterte, to put Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros in an inaccurately malicious position regarding the Maute group's attack on Marawi City.
"We maintain that our troops are more than capable to contain any situation in Mindanao or in the entire country, for that matter. Anything that transgresses their normal operations is simply out of the question," Cabreros said.
"We owe it to our country to resist any and all forms of lies that only seek to divide an already divided nation. Truth has always been and will always be our weapon," she added. ##
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. ###
Quote: Machris Cabreros, President of Akbayan
Akbayan grieves with the people of Marawi, thousands of whom were displaced by the continuing clashes in their home city while many others are still trapped amid the crossfire. The death toll is now at 97, while the airstrikes continue to damage property and livelihood of Marawi residents. In the face of clashes between the Maute group and the government troops, it is the people who suffer most the consequences of violence.
We also applaud the bravery of many who have opened their homes to the exodus of people and the people from all around the country who have initiated donation drives to help our fellow Filipinos in Mindanao.
We however condemn the far-reaching Martial Law declaration of the President and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus as a disproportionate and extreme response to the Maute group; instead of ending terrorism and promoting peace, such extreme response to the Maute group threatens to further escalate violence in the region. Peace, more often than not, is the casualty of Martial Law.
It is also important to point out that Duterte’s martial law is not the martial law that is envisioned under the 1987 constitution. It is akin to Marcos’s 1972 martial law that recognizes no checks and balance. The President not only blatantly boasts of how harsh his martial law will be, as inspired by Marcos’s bloody rule, he further threatens to ignore both its co-equal branches, the Congress and the Supreme Court.
We in Akbayan do not doubt his capacity to keep true to his bloody promise, we only need to look at the more than 8,000 dead in his equally terrifying war on drugs.
We therefore call on both houses of Congress to band together in providing the needed safeguards to the President’s reign of terror and convene a joint session immediately.
We remind Congress that there are no shortcuts to peace. Fighting terrorism is not the only ingredient to lasting peace in Mindanao. They must be at the forefront of scrutinizing any policy measure that masquerades as a silver bullet for peace, especially if this silver bullet will serve to spill more blood on the soils of Mindanao.
No to Maute terrorism, but in equal measure, we also say no to authoritarianism! Never again to martial law! ###
QUOTE: Machris Cabreros, Akbayan President
Akbayan condemns this latest horrendous remark of President Rodrigo Duterte making light of rape in front of our troops. While the President and his allies might defend his statements as an attempt at levity, rape can never be considered as a joke especially when rape, as he has illustrated with his depraved humor, is utilized as an implement of war.
Although such statements of blatant misogyny and sexism are not the exception but the rule for Duterte, such utterances should never be normalized. It is without a doubt that Duterte’s previous remarks, starting from the time he was still a presidential candidate when he joked about the rape and murder of a foreign missionary, to the overt misogyny he and his allies have applied towards vocal women critics, has served to lower the bar for the presidency. However such statements from our public servants should never be countenanced, whether in the private or public spheres.
It should also be pointed out that his statement, while intended to elicit laughter from similarly degenerate minds among those in the audience, serve to goad our soldiers to commit a war crime. As a son of Mindanao and a son of a Marcos critic, he should be aware of the numerous atrocities that the Marcos military committed against many Mindanaoan women.
But it seems, we cannot expect Mr. Duterte to desist from making those remarks on the grounds that as the highest official of the country he is sworn to protect the human rights of every citizen. He has practically spat on the idea of human rights, threatened human rights defenders, and has defended law enforcement officials who have violated human rights. Yes, there is little to expect from him in that regard.
However, as the first Mindanaoan president, he should be more prudent in his choice of words when addressing our troops currently deployed to fight terrorism under the auspices of martial law in Mindanao. Obviously the current Armed Forces of the Philippines while not perfect, is not the same Marcos-era AFP, but their commander in chief seems to be pining for them to be otherwise.
Yes, we don’t presume Duterte respects women. But even he and his allies should admit that goading our troops to rape as a punchline for a joke, is too sick even for him. ###
The Duterte administration's rejection of EU support is but the latest tool deployed by the administration to evade accountability over criticisms of its campaign against drugs which has killed thousands of poor people.
It is incumbent upon new DFA Secretary Allan Peter Cayetano to convince the world that we intend to uphold the country's responsibility to the community of nations despite this development.
Sec. Cayetano should show not just the EU, but the United Nations as well that government is addressing the killings, instead of blaming the opposition or fudging his own interpretation of facts.
We also believe that the Duterte administration's pivot to Chinese loans for its build, build, build strategy carries its own risks. Chinese investments are not only laden with corruption, they will also imperil our own economy in case of a downturn in the Chinese economy.
If interference in internal Philippine affairs is the rationale behind rejecting EU aid, then what can be more interference than Chinese encroachment on the West Philippine Sea?
Akbayan believes that while overseas development aid is imperfect, the solution is to effectively engage, not reject, development partners such as the European Union.
The Duterte administration needs to learn soon that a critical element of an independent foreign policy is upholding mutual respect for both parties, not the emotional rejection of support that may have very real consequences for the lives of poor people on the ground.
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