MANILA, Philippines (2nd UPDATE) – Three teachers from the Alternative Learning Center for Agricultural and Livelihood Development (Alcadev) and 5 other representatives from youth groups disrupted the joint session of Congress on the extension of martial law in Mindanao on Saturday, July 22.
The group held a lightning rally inside the session hall and began shouting while ACT-Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio asked Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana about the need to extend martial law in the region when the number of Maute rebels have decreased by more than half. (WATCH: LIVE: Congress joint session on martial law in Mindanao)
“Never again, never again, never again to martial law!” shouted the protesters as they raised signs bearing the same message in front of 14 senators and 242 lawmakers.
The protesters, 3 of them teachers to the Lumads, were immediately escorted out of the plenary hall by security personnel of the House of Representatives. They were brought to Quezon City Precinct 6.
The protesters were able to enter the premises despite strict security because they have ties with the House Makabayan bloc composed of left-leaning lawmakers, including Tinio.
They were identified as:
The Alcadev was created on July 19, 2004, as an alternative learning system for indigent indigenous youth, including those belonging to the tribes of the Manobo, Higaonon, Banwaon, Talaandig, and Mamanwa.
Minutes before the disruption, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr told lawmakers that Duterte’s martial law is “not the martial that we had before,” referring to martial rule under the Marcos regime. (READ: Duterte to make warrantless arrests even without martial law)
“The local officials have not been arrested there. The courts are functioning. They are helping us. We are helping each other. Congress is in session. This is not the martial law that we had before. The martial law that we have now is to protect the people of Mindanao,” he said.
On Saturday, the House and the Senate convened in a joint session to discuss whether or not to grant President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao until December 31.
Duterte had put the region under martial rule after government troops clashed with the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group on May 23. – Rappler.com