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islander

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A very dangerous notion on Martial Law
« on: January 30, 2017, 09:13:08 PM »

A very dangerous notion on Martial Law

By: Atty. Mel Sta.Maria
January 21, 2017

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President Rodrigo Duterte. Photographed by KJ Rosales.
 
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Atty. Mel Sta.Maria is the Dean of the Far Eastern University Institute of Law and Professor at the Ateneo de Manila School of Law.

That President Rodrigo Duterte can declare martial law even outside the textual parameters set by the 1987 Freedom Constitution is a seriously wrong understanding of our Constitution which, if pursued and implemented, will inevitably lead to the destruction of our democratic way of life.

Only when there is invasion and rebellion – when public safety so requires – can the President impose martial law. No other "very extreme cases" – such as the gravity of the drug problem or a possible attempt on the life of government officials – can justify its imposition. After the presidential declaration, Congress can rescind it. And even if Congress agrees with the President, the Supreme Court can nullify their decisions upon a taxpayer's meritorious petition. That is the constitutional command. It is the rule of law – not simply a "textbook definition."

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islander

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Re: A very dangerous notion on Martial Law
« Reply #1 on: January 30, 2017, 09:13:52 PM »

That rule of law, which is the citizens' protection, and all other fundamental rights, will be imperiled by the baseless imposition and misuse of martial law. The right against self-incrimination, the prohibition against torture, the regard for due process to protect a person's life, liberty and property, the freedom of speech and the press, the right of association, the sanctity of private contracts, the recourse to the writ of habeas corpus, the supremacy of civilian over military rule, the observance of equality before the law, the fiscal nature of the separation of governmental powers, among others, can easily be ignored and/or violated by the "powers that be". On the other hand, extrajudicial killings will continue, forced disappearance and extortion encouraged, and abuse of authority fomented, all of them with impunity. Worse, sovereignty residing in the people is eventually and effectively usurped by the will, beliefs, say-so of one person and implemented by that person's subalterns, resulting in despotic rule.

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Re: A very dangerous notion on Martial Law
« Reply #2 on: January 30, 2017, 09:14:29 PM »

And to say that extra-constitutional means can be undertaken because it was already done in the 1986 ouster of the dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos is to disregard or be ignorant of the distinctively historical truth that the people, as a sovereign, directly intervened in that 1986 expulsion. It happened because the so-called leaders of the country were, in fact, criminals and most institutions were perverted to blindly be subservient to their felonious design – anchored no less on an autocratic martial-law 1973 Constitution. And when the 1987 Freedom Constitution was ratified by the majority of our people, those historical bases were strongly affirmed. Moreover, the post-ratification events were and are still their validation. Billions of dollars of ill-gotten and stolen wealth were later recovered and are still being recovered. Even Congress passed legislation making it public policy to recognize the gross human rights violations inflicted by the Marcos martial law regime on many of our people.

These are plainly undisputable.

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Re: A very dangerous notion on Martial Law
« Reply #3 on: January 30, 2017, 09:15:18 PM »

On the other hand, martial law powers can only be exercised by an elected president who has taken a sacred oath to protect and defend the constitution – a constitution precisely to remind him of the fundamental limitations of his delegated powers. For instance, in the absence of rebellion or invasion, when public safety requires, President Duterte cannot impose martial law on his own belief that the nation is in dire peril. He has no authority even as the highest officer of the land to do so. President Duterte's 16,000,000, more or less, votes in the May 2016 election can never justify unconstitutional choices and orders. It does not give the President the license to evade and disregard the rule of law. And the fact that he is a minority President makes it imperative that he and his subalterns strictly observe the Constitution.

In sum, any advocacy that martial law is justified by reasons not textually allowed by our fundamental law is nothing but crap. Though used in a different context, the words of Sam Stein, senior political editor of the Huffington Post, are appropriate: "Sometimes it helps just to call b*** when you see it."

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