• Congress, High Court must assert their independence – Senate minority


    SENATORS belonging to the minority bloc on Monday called on various institutions of democracy to continuously serve and protect the interest of the people amid a “complicated and divisive political environment” by asserting their independence.

    According to the senators, institutions like Congress and the Supreme Court (SC) will not be able to effectively protect and serve the people if they would allow their independence undermined by others.

    “Now, more than ever, it is important for our democratic institutions to show their independence amid the complicated and divisive political environment that we have today,” they said in a statement.

    The Senate minority bloc is composed of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, Francis Pangilinan, Benigno Paulo Aquino 4th and Leila de Lima (who is detained), all belonging to the Liberal Party (LP); and Senators Antonio Trillanes 4th; and Risa Hontiveros.

    “Let us not allow others to dishonor and disrespect our institutions, because doing so is an insult to the memory of the brave and selfless Filipinos who fought for our freedom as a nation,” Drilon said.

    The minority senators said the only way to protect and serve the people is for the institutions of democracy to preserve their independence.

    The minority bloc, however, did not cite any specific incident that would indicate efforts to undermine the independence of Congress or the Supreme Court but there have been statements and actions coming from allies of the administration that seem to show disrespect to the minority.

    Just last week, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez vowed to disregard any ruling from the High Trubunal compelling Congress to convene in a joint session to review the martial law declaration in Mindanao of President Rodrigo Duterte.

    Alvarez, a lawyer, even threatened to tear the order ordering them to convene in a joint session.

    The SC is set to conduct oral arguments today on a petition filed by former senator Rene Saguisag, former Commission on Elections chairman and constitutional commission member Christian Monsod, de Lima, former congresswoman Loretta Ann Rosales, former Philippine Health Insurance Corp. director Alexander Padilla and law professor Rene Gorospe.

    The petition is seeking issuance of a mandamus to compel Congress to convene to review the declaration.

    “As we celebrate our Independence today, let us breathe life to the liberties that were fought for us by our forerunners by defending the independence of our institutions and by keeping dissent alive in the face of tyranny,” Trillanes said.

    Pangilinan and Aquino said the people should continue to guard democracy in light of proliferation of “fake news” and misinformation.

    They added that everyone must do his part in freeing the people from fake news and lies that are rampant in the country.

    “We fought for independence from foreign rule. We fought for freedom from a ruthless dictator. Now, we fight terrorism, encroachment on our territory and our freedom to dissent. In an era of fake news, rabid online persecution and weak political institutions, we need to fight for our democracy now more than ever,” Aquino said.


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