Monday , June 18, 2018

Velez: The Speaker's mega-blast

BEWARE. House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez wants to extend martial law for the next five years. He says two months of martial law is short to address the threats of insurgency and terror in Mindanao, he says five years of it is good.

Someone please tell him the meaning of his job as House Speaker is not simply to have him speak out his war-freaking mind, his conspiracy theories about the Resorts World attack or dogged loyalty to the president.

It means he has to craft laws to help our country moving. But the shocking thing is, in his first year as Duterte's House Speaker, Congress only passed four laws. It is the lowest performing Congress by any president performing in the first year.

Laws are supposed to embody the president's vision. Duterte talks of fighting oligarchy, so laws can be passed to put teeth in implementing agrarian reform. There should be laws to help end Endo. Where are the laws to make tuition free in state universities or to increase teachers' salaries? Promoting peace talks can be done by more resolutions and involvement with constituents to promote an enabling environment of peace. And the president's vision of federalism seems not to be taking off either.

But what has Congress been doing in one year? Oh yes, it was busy trying to dig out information about Senator de Lima's sex life. It was busy kicking out Gina Lopez out of the Department of Environment and allowed mining companies to roll over the mountains again. It was busy trying to pry away the social welfare budget from Judy Taguiwalo.

Gosh, this enforces the meaning of Congress as the opposite of progress.

What I fear about Alvarez is that he speaks not as the honorable congressman, but as the sergeant at arms in Congress, of politicos, landlords, back-slappers and loyal dogs to the President.

Is he even sure that everyone in Mindanao likes martial law?

Not the Davao City Chamber of Commerce, one of the institutions backing Duterte. They are saying the declaration is dampening investments and tourism into the city. Who wants to come into Davao with the specter of martial law? Davao Chamber's president Ronald Go gave a sobering suggestion that combating terror can still be done without martial law as long as strict security protocols and public vigilance can be enforced.

Even the farmers in Alvarez's Davao Region are complaining that soldiers are busy enforcing martial law in the countryside that they cannot even go out on the farms freely. There have been farmers arrested left and right in Davao Region, without due process. It's very much like martial law of Marcos' times.

I think martial law is just an excuse for Alvarez for his poor performing House. He has blamed the opposition and now he blames some black-clad-fundamental-whatchamacallit for the country's woes. The real threat is still there, the oligarchy, the impunity and the business of war and plunder. But he believes he is the sergeant at arms of a rubber stamp congress.

I guess five years without Alvarez in power could be a better proposal for the country.