Senate minority urges Congress, SC to ‘assert’ independence

Following the celebration of 119th Independence day on Monday, the Senate minority bloc called out to the Congress and Supreme Court to assert their independence despite in the midst of “divisive political environment”.

The Senate minority bloc is composed of Senators Franklin Drilon, Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, Benigno Paulo “Bam” Aquino IV, and Leila De Lima, all part of the Liberal Party; Sen. Antonio “Sonny” Trillanes IV; and Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros.

“Now, more than ever, it is important for our democratic institutions to show their independence amidst the complicated and divisive political environment that we have today,” the six-member bloc said in their Independence Day statement.

“We will not be able to protect and serve our people if we do not preserve our independence and integrity as institutions of democracy,” they added.

Being the minority leader, Senator Drilon stated that letting others in dishonoring and disrespecting our institutions would be an “insult to the memory of the brave and selfless Filipinos who fought for our freedom as a nation”.

“As we celebrate our Independence today, let us breathe life to the liberties that were fought for us by our forerunners by defending the independence of our institutions and by keeping dissent alive in the face of tyranny,” Trillanes said, the mutineer and former Navy officer turned senator.

Senator Pangilinan and Aquino also called out to people to be conscious of the fake news coming from social media.

“Sa pagyabong ng social media, lumaganap din ang fake news na nagbabanta sa katotohanan at nagdudulot ng kalituhan. Nais nating mga Pilipino na maging malaya mula sa fake news at kasinungalingan,” Pangilinan stated.

“We fought for independence from foreign rule. We fought for freedom from a ruthless dictator. Now, we fight terrorism, encroachment on our territory and our freedom to dissent. In an era of fake news, rabid online persecution and weak political institutions, we need to fight for our democracy now more than ever,” Aquino said.

Also having her own say regarding democracy and independence, Hontiveros said that “independence and freedom will have no sense without democracy.”

“Our freedom can only be guaranteed by strong democratic institutions. I call on the public to honor the sacrifices of our heroes by opposing a Martial law declaration that is not compliant with the constitution. Let us always remember, the promised order of tyranny will never bring us to full democracy,” the lady senator stated.

Meanwhile, their statements came before the Supreme Court is set to hold oral arguments for the three petitions that seeks to invalidate the President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao.

The petitions were set to be tackled as one. Each petition were filed separately by opposition group congressmen led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, activists and militant lawmakers, and four women residents of Marawi City–the center of skirmishes between government troops and local terror group Maute.

All petitions claimed that the President’s martial proclamation needs to be  taken as unconstitutional for it lacks sufficient factual basis, the only ground that could be raised with the SC under the Constitution.

Through Clerk of Court Felipa Anama, the Supreme Court directed Solicitor General to file a consolidated comment to the petitions until 12 noon of June 12.

On Lagman’s petition, they stated that there was no rebellion nor invasion which threathens public safety which is written in the Philippine Constitution. His group seeks to suspenf martial laws and the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Marawi City or elsewhere in Mindanao to implement warrantless arrests of Maute fighters or their sympathizers.

The group of activists and leftist lawmakers–ACT Teachers’ party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Arlene Brosas and Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago– said the imposition of Proclamation No. 216 was “unwarranted, unjustifiable, and wholly out of proportion to the threat” posed by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

“Respondents failed to prove sufficient factual basis that rebellion or at the very least incidents similar to that in Marawi are simultaneously occurring in other parts of the island,” the petition read.

Source: GMA; INQ

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