Pangilinan to Cabinet men: ‘Don’t open gates to dictatorship’

Senator Francis Pangilinan

MANILA — Senator Francis Pangilinan on Monday called on members of the Cabinet to convince President Rodrigo Duterte not to violate the Constitution in view of the President’s statement not to listen to anyone but the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police.

Pangilinan also encouraged the security cluster of the Cabinet not to allow themselves to be used as “instruments in acts of reckless disregard of our constitutional democracy.”

But the senator warned that allowing the President to disregard the Constitution “would only open the gates to dictatorship.” “This we vigorously oppose. Might is not right.”

“No one is above the law, not even the President. We oppose any violation of the Constitution on matters pertaining to the martial law declaration,” he said.

Pangilinan urged the people to come together and unite to defend the Constitution, democracy, and rule of law following Duterte’s statement that he would not listen to the Supreme Court or Congress on his martial law declaration in Mindanao.

“The President swore to uphold and defend the Constitution, not willfully defile it and do only (what) he wants. We call on patriotic and sober Cabinet members as well as (the) armed forces leadership to assert themselves, to speak truth to the President, to caution and urge him not to violate the Constitution and his oath of office,” the senator said in a statement.

Pangilinan, president of the once ruling Liberal Party, issued the statement after Duterte’s pronouncement that his martial law declaration in Mindanao will continue until the police and the military say that the Philippines is safe.

“Until the police and the Armed Forces say the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue. I will not listen to others. The Supreme Court justices, the congressmen, they are not here,” the President told soldiers over the weekend.

“Are they (members of SC and Congress) the ones dying from loss of blood, bleeding, hemorrhaging because there is no help, no reinforcement? They’re not,” Duterte added.

“We call on all citizens to come together and unite to defend the Constitution, our democracy, and the rule of law. We call for courage, for bearers of light to stand against the looming tide of darkness upon our land,” said Pangilinan, who is part of the minority bloc in the Senate.