MANILA - Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros twitted House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for threatening to disobey and tear up any Supreme Court order compelling the convening of a joint session of Congress to review the martial law declaration in Mindanao.
In an interview, Hontiveros pointed out that Congress did not tear up President Rodrigo Duterte's letter explaining why he needed to declare martial law in Mindanao.
"Nung pinadala ni Presidente ang ulat nila tungkol sa martial law declaration sa Kongreso, di namin pinunit yan, tinanggap yan. Kami po sa Senate minority at ang genuine minority sa House, yung Magnificent 7, ay hawak yung ulat na yan," she said.
"Yung papel na yan, giniit na dapat magconvene in joint session, kung inutos ng Korte Suprema na kami ay mag-convene in joint session, di po dapat punitin ni Speaker."
"Ang 3 sangay ng pamahalaan at mamamayan ay dapat magpakita lagi ng paggalang sa isa't isa at hindi bastos lalo't na itong mga isyu ng martial law, ng suspension of the privilege of the writ, yung mga agam-agam sa paglabag sa kalayaang sibil ay napaka-importante at nagdudulot na ng malaking kaguluhan. Kailangan mahawakan natin ang mga demokratikong institusyon at proseso para magbigay ng kaayusan, kalinawan at katarungan sa ating bayan," she added.
Last week, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he will tear up any Supreme Court order for Congress to convene a joint session to review President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
He stressed that the Supreme Court has no business under the Constitution to order Congress regarding the exercise of its powers over martial law.
"Mag-issue ng direktiba ang SC telling Congress, dictating Congress na 'Oy, magconvene kayo ng joint session'? Punitin ko yan eh," he said.
Likewise, Alvarez warned of a constitutional crisis should the Supreme Court issue such an order. Critics of martial law want Congress convened to review the declaration, the way Congress did in 2009 when President Arroyo declared martial law over Maguindanao.
As this developed, the Senate minority bloc called on various institutions of democracy such as Congress and the Supreme Court to assert their independence.
"Now, more than ever, it is important for our democratic institutions to show their independence amidst the complicated and divisive political environment that we have today," they said in a statement.
The bloc is composed of Senators Franklin M. Drilon as the minority leader, Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Benigno Paulo "Bam" Aquino IV, and Leila De Lima, all belonging to the Liberal Party; Sen. Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV; and Akbayan Senator Risa Hontiveros.
"We will not be able to protect and serve our people if we do not preserve our independence and integrity as institutions of democracy," they said.
"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," said Drilon.
Trillanes stressed that "it is in everyone's interest that we guard the independence of our institutions."
"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," he said.
Pangilinan and Aquino, for their part, said that the people should continue to guard the democracy in light of the proliferation of "fake news" and misinformation.
"Sa pagyabong ng social media, lumaganap din ang fake news na nagbabanta sa katotohanan at nagdudulot ng kalituhan. Nais nating mga Pilipino na maging malaya mula sa fake news at kasinungalingan," said Pangilinan.
"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.
Hontiveros, for her part, said that "independence and freedom will have no sense without democracy."
"Our freedom can only be guaranteed by strong democratic institutions. I call on the public to honor the sacrifices of our heroes by opposing a Martial law declaration that is not compliant with the constitution. Let us always remember, the promised order of tyranny will never bring us to full democracy," she added.