Swift legal action vs. Alvarez to avert destab threats – House leaders

By Jose Cielito Reganit

April 16, 2024, 2:18 pm

<p>House of Representatives plenary hall <em>(Photo courtesy of HRep)</em></p>

House of Representatives plenary hall (Photo courtesy of HRep)

MANILA – Leaders of the House of Representatives on Tuesday called for “swift legal action” against Davao del Norte 1st District Rep. Pantaleon Alvarez to avert any potential threat to the government’s stability.

Alvarez stirred controversy during a rally in Tagum City on Sunday when he urged the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to withdraw its support for President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr., while warning against a potential war amid escalating tensions in the West Philippine Sea (WPS).

In separate statements, House Majority Leader Jose Dalipe, Senior Deputy Speaker Aurelio Gonzales Jr. and Deputy Speaker David Suarez condemned Alvarez's remarks as "not only divisive but also dangerous."

"Former Speaker Alvarez’s irresponsible remarks are not only seditious but also undermine the stability of our government and the rule of law. We cannot allow such reckless behavior to go unchecked," Dalipe said.

Gonzales said the former House Speaker should not be allowed to incite instability and undermine the democratic process.

“As leaders, we must uphold the rule of law and respect the democratic process. 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,” Gonzales said.

Suarez said inciting military action against the President was “unacceptable” and that such remarks only served to “sow discord and weaken the fabric of our society.”

“We must stand firm against any attempts to undermine the duly elected government. Rep. Alvarez’s statement was a stark reminder of the importance of upholding the principles of democracy and the rule of law,” Suarez said.

Legal charges

The House leaders called for the immediate filing of legal charges against Alvarez to ensure accountability, and prevent any further attempts 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.

In another statement, House Assistant Majority Leader Zia Alonto Adiong cautioned Alvarez from issuing such statements as it could be construed as an “incitement to sedition.”

“The statements of the former Speaker carry much weight and may be the license needed by certain individuals, even amongst the military, to carry out the destabilization of the government,” he noted.

"Such statement which effectuate potential threats to government stability and may therefore cause social mayhem may be legally interpreted as bordering on sedition and could well attract legal repercussions," he added.

On the other hand, House Assistant Majority Leader and Zambales 1st District Rep. Jay Khonghun said the Alvarez’s remarks was not a mere expression of dissent "but a calculated attempt to destabilize the government.”

"The clear intention behind Alvarez's remarks is to sow chaos and instability in our nation. We cannot allow individuals to undermine the democratic process and manipulate government institutions for their own political gain," Khonghun said.

“Former Speaker Alvarez must be held accountable for his actions, and charges should be filed against him to ensure that justice is served.”

AFP must remain apolitical

Meanwhile, Adiong stressed the importance of the AFP remaining apolitical, and not being manipulated to destabilize the government or undermine the chain of command,

“The AFP must always remain apolitical and should not be made pawns to instigate destabilization nor be provoked to undermine the chain of command, particularly the President being their Commander-in-Chief, and in effect infringe their sworn duty under the Constitution which is to protect the territorial integrity and the preservation of our country’s sovereignty," Adiong said.

In urging the AFP to withdraw support from President Marcos, Alvarez cited the alleged need for peace and stability in the country, as he warned against a potential war in the region that could lead to "destruction and famine."

Alvarez's remarks come at a time of heightened political tensions following allegations of a "secret agreement" between former president Rodrigo R. Duterte and China regarding the WPS. (PNA)