Alvarez: ‘Super majority’ not a ‘virtual dictatorship’
Incoming Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Tuesday ruled out the possibility of a “virtual dictatorship” under the administration of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte.
During the Meet the Inquirer forum, the incoming Davao Del Norte congressman said a “super majority” in Congress did not mean Duterte was walking into a “virtual dictatorship.”
He maintained that there would still be a healthy opposition in Congress as a character of genuine democracy.
He made this reaction to former Akbayan Rep. Walden Bello’s statement that with the President-elect’s clout in Congress and his expected appointment of at least nine Supreme Court justices, Duterte was walking into a “virtual dictatorship.”
Bello, who lost his Senate bid in the May 9 national polls, even said Duterte might be the most powerful leader since Marcos.
“With Duterte appointing nine of retiring Supreme Court members by 2019, we are left with a very powerful President, the most powerful since Marcos… I think even Duterte is probably surprised at how easy has been his walk to a virtual dictatorship,” Bello said.
“It does not follow na (that) when you have a super majority, mayroon kang (you have a) virtual dictatorship. Mukhang mali naman siguro yung statement na yun (I think that statement is wrong), as far as the House of Representatives is concerned,” Alvarez said.
“I want to assure you that we will always be on the side of the people,” he added.
Alvarez said although he previously said that he would reduce the minority to a “bite-size” number of 20, he would still maintain a healthy opposition in Congress.
“As long as we have opposition then there is democracy,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez, Duterte’s pick for Speaker, boasted of securing a super majority in Congress. His allies said Alvarez had gained the support of 260 of the 290-strong House of Representatives to clinch the Speaker post.
From just three members in the incoming 17th Congress, Duterte’s Partido Demokratikong Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) has grown to a potent force in Congress, with various coalition partners from major political parties such as the Nationalist People’s Coalition, the Nacionalista Party, the party-list bloc, the Lakas-Christian Muslim Democrats and the Liberal Party.
Duterte has also gained the support of the Visayas and the Northern blocs of lawmakers in the House of Representatives. Alvarez said he is also in talks with the militant Makabayan bloc for them to join the majority coalition.
Duterte is seeking clout in Congress in his bid to fast track the passage of his legislative agenda, among others the reinstatement of the death penalty for heinous crimes (which was abolished in 2006 under the Arroyo administration), as well as constitutional amendment to change the country’s system of governance to a federal state in his bid to decentralize Metro Manila’s powers to the provinces. RAM/rga
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