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THE VOTE: A critical blow to Philippine Democracy

(Speech explaining his “No” vote on extending martial law until 31 December 2017, delivered by Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin at the Joint Session of Congress on 13 December 2017 at the Batasang Pambansa in Quezon City)

Akbayan votes NO for yet another extension of the factually and constitutionally impaired Martial Law in Mindanao, dealing a critical blow to Philippine democracy.

Without actual invasion or rebellion existing nor a factual basis to back such claims, it gives a blanket authority to the President to impose it anywhere, anytime.

This will lead to a No-el (No elections) scenario as Comelec will invoke Martial Law as a basis for postponement. This happened last Sept 5, 2017 when Comelec cancelled the scheduled elections before Congress reset it to May 2017.

Absent any sufficient proof of actual invasion or rebellion — a condition required by our Constitution — martial law now desensitizes the people to wrongly equate martial law with good governance and democracy. ML now makes war as an instrument of national policy rather than the pursuit of peace, justice, equality, freedom through a negotiated peace settlement with those who rebel against government.

This sets us to a deadly path to resolve conflicts. President Duterte’s war in Mindanao saw us spending P5.87-B since Martial Law  was declared six months ago.

Another extension will bleed democracy and defunds our fight against poverty. And with the looming certainty of a charter change through Con-Ass (Constituent Assembly), national elections can also be postponed simply by passing a new transitory provision in the Constitution by plebiscite — possibly the same plebiscite previously set in May 2018.

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