Opposition hits ‘martial law’ during House deliberations
MANILA, Philippines – Lawmakers who opposed the extension of martial law in Mindanao assailed House Speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on Thursday for restricting the time for congressmen’s interpellation and explanation of votes.
Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman branded this as another “martial law” that restricted the freedom of expression of senators and House members.
“‘Martial law’ was also extended to the Joint Session of the Congress when the freedom of expression of Senators and Representatives was restricted to three minutes for interpellation and one minute for the explanation of their respective votes,” Lagman said in a press conference.
As a “deliberative assembly,” Congress should “allow the free rein of interpellation and debate on crucial issues like a third extension of martial law in Mindanao,” according to Lagman. He also warned martial law may “embolden anew the military to violate civil, political and human rights even as the citizens are cowed from expressing dissent.”
The Albay congressman underscored that “premeditated alacrity is anathema to democracy.”
“The undue restriction on the right to interpellate and explain one’s vote follows the pattern of limitation designed by the Executive in forwarding the request for extension on the eleventh hour, thus depriving the Congress from fully deliberating on the merits of the requested extension and amply validate its proffered factual basis,” he added.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, who was among those whose time was cut short by Arroyo when he was explaining his vote, lamented how their freedom to express was restricted.
The opposition lawmaker also stressed martial rule should be “discussed exhaustively because we are dealing with lives of the Mindanaoans.”
“Kung lilimitahan natin nang sobrang iksi ang oras para magpaliwanag, parang martial law na rin sa loob ng Kongreso,” he added in a statement.
In a joint session on Wednesday, Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2019. /cbb
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