Free speech, Alvarez says as DOJ checks if he committed sedition

Free speech, Alvarez says as DOJ checks if he committed sedition

'Non-aligned': Ex-Speaker Alvarez denies joining House minority bloc

Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez. NOY MORCOSO/INQUIRER.NET

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Justice (DOJ) said on Tuesday that it would investigate Davao del Norte Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez’s call for the Armed Forces of the Philippines and Philippine National Police to withdraw its support for President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to determine “whether it has risen to the level of sedition, inciting to sedition or even rebellion.”

“As a former lawmaker myself, I would like to remind Congressman Alvarez to act in accordance [with] the highest standards of ethics, morality and nationalism, and avoid remarks unbecoming of a member of the House of Representatives,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla said in a statement.


During a political rally in Tagum City on Sunday, Alvarez expressed concern over escalating tension in the West Philippine Sea and called on the AFP and PNP to turn their backs on Marcos to force him to resign.


READ: Navy says reservist Alvarez should explain ouster call vs Marcos

“When trouble breaks out in the West Philippine Sea, there will be countless dead bodies. There would be unimaginable destruction, famine, hunger,” the former Speaker said. “If you withdraw support from him, he will have nothing else to do but step down.”

The AFP and PNP, however, rejected Alvarez’s call and said in separate statements that they would stand by the Constitution and duly constituted authorities.

Protected by Constitution

On Tuesday, Alvarez defended himself, saying his speech at the rally could neither be considered seditious nor a manifestation of disorderly conduct “because it was protected by the freedom of speech clause of the 1987 Constitution.”

He said his speech stemmed from his grievances, particularly against the foreign policy direction taken by the Marcos administration which, according to him, served American interests and placed the lives and liberties of Filipinos at risk.

“I love the Philippines, especially Mindanao. How could I keep quiet? Look at what’s happening. We are being dragged to war by Malacañang although China is ahead of the United States in terms of economy, technology and military power,” Alvarez said. “It’s unacceptable.”


More of his colleagues, however, have called for him to be criminally charged for his “seditious” statement.

Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr., Deputy Speaker David Suarez, and Majority Leader Manuel Jose Dalipe called his speech “not only divisive but also dangerous,” while Assistant Majority Leader Jefferson Khonghun described it as a “calculated attempt to destabilize the government.”

“We urge the appropriate authorities to take swift and decisive action against former Speaker Alvarez to uphold the integrity of our institutions and protect the democratic process,” Dalipe said.

“As leaders, we must uphold the rule of law and respect the democratic process,” Gonzales said, adding, “His call for the withdrawal of support from the duly-elected President with an overwhelming mandate from 31 million Filipinos is a direct attack on our democratic institutions.”

For Suarez, inciting military action against the President was “unacceptable,” and Alvarez’s remarks served to “sow discord and weaken the fabric of our society.”

Khonghun observed that Alvarez’s speech was “not merely an expression of dissent but a calculated attempt to destabilize the government.”

Some senators also commented on the issue, with Sen. Aquilino Pimentel III appealing to Alvarez not to involve the AFP in political matters.

“Let us insulate our armed forces from politics so that they can develop into a more professional, disciplined and inspired group,” Pimentel said in a message to reporters.

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For Sen. Jinggoy Estrada, Alvarez’s statement was “uncalled for,” as Marcos was on the right track in dealing with the West Philippine Sea issue.“You talk to China, they just keep on doing things, they are bullying us. We have to give attention to our allies already,” Estrada said. —WITH A REPORT FROM TINA G. SANTOS

TAGS: Alvarez, DoJ, Jesus Crispin Remulla, seditious statement

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