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Alvarez calls on colleagues to support Duterte-imposed martial law

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Alvarez calls on colleagues to support Duterte-imposed martial law

/ 12:44 PM May 31, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte, center, with Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, left, and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez in Malacanang. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Wednesday backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao, calling the proclamation the “right thing to do” even as he urged his colleagues not to compare it to the martial rule of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

In opening the meeting of the House of Representatives as a Committee of the Whole to tackle the martial law report, Alvarez urged his colleagues to go down from their “ivory towers” and view Duterte’s martial law declaration away from the experiences of the country during the dictatorship of Marcos, who cemented his one-man rule through martial law.

“While we understand the reservations of some with martial law, let us view the situation not exclusively from the perspective of the past. Our present Constitution provides sufficient safeguards to prevent abuses by agents of the State,” Alvarez said.

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READ: House committee holds executive session for martial law report

He assured Congress that it would monitor the developments and would step in to fulfill its check and balance role should the need arises.

“Moreover, we give the public our assurance that we are keeping a watchful eye upon the unfolding of events and will step in as a counter-balance should and when the need arises,” Alvarez said.

He said the Congress’ support for the declaration of martial law should not be perceived as supportive of a purely military solution to the problem of terrorism.

“The situation is far more complex. Besides military action, we have to address the historical, social, economic, and political roots of the problem. After all, the most potent weapon against terrorism, insurgencies, and rebellion is nation building,” the House speaker said.

Alvarez reminded his colleagues that their decisions on martial law would unduly affect the lives of the people in Marawi City, which had been sieged by the terror group Maute prompting the President to declare martial law in the whole region of Mindanao.

“My fellow colleagues, let us remember that how we decide today will determine the trajectory of our response to the grave threats posed by terror groups—the Mautes included—that has rampaged the peaceful City of Marawi and the people of Mindanao,” Alvarez said.

Alvarez posed two questions on his colleagues: Whether they want to help the chief executive, or to deprive the President the opportunity to flush out the terror groups in Mindanao.

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“Will our collective response extend a helping hand to our Commander-in-Chief and, consequently, empower him to decisively destroy the delusional terror dreams of these extremist groups?” Alvarez said.

“Or will our response be to view the occasion from ivory towers and, while disconnected from the realities on the ground, choose to chain the hands of the President at a time when he needs our full support the most?” he added.

Alvarez urged his colleagues to enable the President to provide lasting solution to the problems of terrorism in Mindanao.

“Colleagues, let us extend to the President the aid which he needs. Let us also do our part and legislate lasting solutions to the problems we face. We owe this to the people of Marawi City. We owe this to the people of Mindanao. We owe this to the people of the Philippines,” he said.

After Alvarez delivered his opening remarks, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea read the highlights of the report without going into the specifics.

When the committee was about to tackle national security concerns, Medialdea moved for the committee to hold a closed-door session. This was approved with a resounding “aye” from the members. JPV

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TAGS: Congress, executive session, House of Representatives, Martial law, news, Speaker Alvarez
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