tom villarinAkbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin warned that the approval by the House Committee on Constitutional Amendments of a Resolution calling for Congress to convene as a constituent assembly to propose changes to the charter, is self-serving and will perpetuate elite interest and corruption.

"The Con-Ass mode of revising the charter, while constitutional, is not idea as its members who have vested interests will only do acts of self-preservation to perpetuate its interests rather than the national interest. Here we can immediately point out term limits and access to public resources as just a few of the narrow interests for legislators-turned-constitutional revisionists," Villarin said.

"Con-Ass is a mode severely lacking feedback, and devoid of informed consent. It can only open itself to charges of corruption if vested interests come into play in the amendments that will be introduced," he added. 

"Only an elected Constitutional Convention with qualifications insulated from vested interests would satisfy the  basic requirements of fairness and impartiality needed for this delicate undertaking," the lawmaker said.
 
The House will tackle the Con-Ass resolution when it resumes session on November 7, 2016 after a two week break starting October 22.

Akbayan, together with the legitimate opposition in the House, will exert all efforts to block its passage. It favors a constitutional convention to effect revisions to the 1987 Constitution.

"If Congress is genuinely interested on pursuing constitutional reforms with a bias for the poor, then it should open the process to stakeholders instead of shoving down ConAss for the public to accept," Villarin remarked. ###

duterte chinaAkbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin warned the Duterte administration against entering into a joint exploration venture with the Chinese government at such a critical juncture, stressing that Duterte should first focus on asserting the favorable decision of the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the West Philippine Sea.

"A joint exploration with China while skipping around the issue of how to resolve Chinese incursion into the West Philippine Sea is tantamount to giving up our sovereign claims," Villarin.

"Winning our case at the UN Arbitral Tribunal and asserting it will fulfill the constitutional mandate of having an independent foreign policy. But asking permission from China so we can fish on our own waters degrades our status as a sovereign nation and will subject us to international ridicule," he added.

tom villarinWe welcome the extension of the SC status quo ante order and we remain confident that its members will decide on the basis of the law and what it affords the Filipino people--nothing less.

This is not about the literal process of just resting a man onto the ground. This is a case of symbolism, and what it means for the state to expend its resources to honor a man, who brought horrors upon this country, plundered its coffers, and whose cronies and family continue to live affluent lives at the expense of Filipinos for generations to come.

The Duterte administration's transactional appreciation of the Marcos burial goes against our Constitution, which was crafted precisely in response to the clamor to never again see another dictator ascend to power.

We hope that the SC takes its time to interpret the Constitution as a historical document, rejecting tyranny and injustice that befell us under the martial law regime of Marcos. The SC is in the best position right now to put a stop to this historical revisionism perpetrated under the guise of national reconciliation. ###

pres duterteAfter a hundred days in office the Duterte administration needs to present a more coherent, consistent and comprehensive strategy to governing the country for the next six years. How and whether it intends to address the root causes of criminality and drug use has been somehow lost in the primacy given to condoning violence and the bloodlust which has been mistaken for justice. 

The war on drugs has proven a failure in every single country that has embarked on it. But countries that framed the menace of drugs as a public health issue has seen dependency and usage rates go down. We urge the Duterte administration to consider harm reduction strategies, focusing on grassroots-based preventive and rehabilitative interventions, as Akbayan is doing, to promote peace and security in our communities.

If the Duterte administration truly wants to bring growth closer to the poor, then it should institutionalize the people-centric and empowering programs on Bottom-Up Budgeting and Pantawid, instead of dismantling them in favor of bloated intelligence funds which are not subject to COA auditing.

If the Duterte administration is truly invested in our sovereignty then it would assert and defend the UNCLOS Tribunal decision, and craft an independent foreign policy which does not bend over for China nor zigs and zags with America. Let our foreign policy be our own path, and not dictated by mood swings and temper tantrums.

If the Duterte administration is convinced of the soundness and correctness of its policies and actions, it should persuade its loyalists such as Justice Secretary Aguirre to desist from their persecution of human rights defenders such as Sen. De Lima. Stick to evidence, if any, and not sexist, misogynist attacks on her personhood.

rosalesThe approval by Speaker Alvarez with, it appears, the apparent concurrence of Justice Secretary Aguirre to play a sex video before its Investigating Committee allegedly involving Senator Leila de Lima for purposes of aid in legislation is, to say the least, the height of hypocrisy that must be condemned outright. It is despicable, disgusting and deplorable.  It puts to shame the entire House of Representatives and the Department of Justice before the eyes of our children, our women, our citizens and the entire global community.  It shocks the nation and makes us wonder if this approval by Mr. Alvarez is motivated by a frustration perhaps left unsolved during his age of puberty or that relentless EJK violence obtaining today provokes unwanted stress on his hitherto passive state of mind.

To remind the lawmakers led by lawmaker Alvarez and the Chief of Philippine Justice Aguirre, the right to privacy is a fundamental right.  Even as we know for certain that this sex video is fabricated  which is, to quote the Senator, as fake as Mr. Aguirre’s peluca, private intimacies are covered by the State Policy in the 1987n Charter which provides in Article II, Section 11 that the State values the dignity of every human person and guarantees full respect for human rights. 

Secondly, Mr. Alvarez and Mr. Aguirre must be reminded that private intimate activities qualify as reproductive rights in the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.  It is a form of self-expression for which respect and tolerance from the society is an entitlement.  And in case the two gentlemen are not aware, CEDAW is a treaty to which the Philippines has concurred as early as the eighties.