Mar­tial law se­duces. Re­sist


By Atty. Pachico A. Seares PRES­I­DENT Duterte has been al­ter­nately put­ting on and off the ta­ble, in vary­ing de­grees of en­thu­si­asm, the op­tion of declar­ing mar­tial law.

He en­dorses it, us­ing it as a threat (“Would I rather de­clare mar­tial law?”). He re­jects it, dis­miss­ing the need (“Not nec­es­sar y”) .

Lately, he wants con­di­tions: that the Con­sti­tu­tion be rid of safe­guards on mar­tial law, in­clud­ing lim­its on du­ra­tion, re­port­ing to Congress and leg­is­la­ture’s right to ex­tend or scrap.

Triple “he” Then U.S. pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush said it would be a lot eas­ier to gov­ern as a dic­ta­tor but in the same breath he rec­og­nized the dan­ger. The joke (“hehehe”) is that as dic­ta­tor he wouldn’t be sure if he could han­dle ab­so­lute power.

Sig­nif­i­cantly, Filipinos in a Dec. 6-11 Pulse Asia poll re­leased this week op­posed (74% to 12%, 3 out of 4) the use of mar­tial law to solve our crises.

We are wary about grant­ing emer­gency pow­ers that do away with bid­dings or cut corners in spend­ing pub­lic funds. We suspect they might be abused. More so if what are taken away are ba­sic rights if habeas cor­pus is sus­pended or mar­tial law im­posed.

Striptease One after the other, it could come, osten­si­bly for pub­lic good. Sus­pend the writ, then de­clare mar­tial law, later set up a rev­o­lu­tion­ary gov­ern­ment. Like a woman se­duc­ing by striptease: dis­card this piece of gar­ment, show that bit of flesh — each lead­ing to com­plete se­duc­tion when the man can no longer re­sist even when he wants to.

Con­sti­tu­tion­al­ists fear the worse if the stages were cut to one: abol­ish democ­racy and re­place it with a rev­o­lu­tion­ary gov­ern­ment. Then pres­i­dent Cory Aquino did it in 1986. But it was pro­duced by a revo­lu­tion, pre­cisely to end the Marcos mar­tial law. Not now, when we have had a func­tion­ing demo­cratic gov­ern­ment for the last 30 years.

That gov­ern­ment, to be sure, has ex­posed its flaws and done some epic mis­takes. But the na­tion must see the folly of go­ing through once again the danger­ous and un­cer­tain years when power was con­cen­trated on one per­son, his kin and friends.

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