Is mar­tial law jus­ti­fied in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal?

Sun Star Bacolod - - Opinion -

P RES­I­DENT Ro­drigo Duterte is en­ter­tain­ing the idea of declar­ing mar­tial law in the en­tire Ne­gros Ori­en­tal Prov­ince in view of the re­cent se­ries of killings there. This was an­nounced by the chief ex­ec­u­tive dur­ing the an­niver­sary of the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Co­or­di­nat­ing Agency (Nica) and the Bu­reau of Fire Pro­tec­tion (BFP).

The po­lice recorded more than 20 killings in­volv­ing in­cum­bent and for­mer politi­cians, vil­lage of­fi­cials, ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cials and hu­man rights lawyers. Four po­lice­men were re­port­edly tor­tured and killed by com­mu­nist in­sur­gents in a moun­tain barangay in Ayun­gon town. Po­lice blamed the New Peo­ple’s Army (NPA) for the se­ries of killings.

It’s no ar­gu­ment that un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion, the Pres­i­dent can de­clare or place the en­tire coun­try or part thereof un­der mar­tial law. But does the present sit­u­a­tion in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal war­rant the dec­la­ra­tion of a mil­i­tary rule?

Let us re-visit first the pro­vi­sion of the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion on the cri­te­ria or jus­ti­fi­ca­tion in plac­ing the coun­try or any part thereof un­der mar­tial law. The Con­sti­tu­tion says that “the Pres­i­dent shall be the com­man­der-in-chief of all armed forces of the Philip­pines and when­ever it be­comes nec­es­sary, he may call out such armed forces to pre­vent or sup­press law­less vi­o­lence, in­va­sion and re­bel­lion.”

There are spe­cific re­quire­ments be­fore a Pres­i­dent can de­clare mar­tial law and this has to be done with the con­cur­rence of Congress. Ac­cord­ing to Ar­ti­cle 7, Sec­tion 18 of the 1987 Con­sti­tu­tion, this, and the sus­pen­sion of the writ of habeas cor­pus can only be done “in case of in­va­sion and re­bel­lion, when the pub­lic safety re­quires it.”

The Pres­i­dent must also sub­mit a re­port to Congress, whether in per­son or in writ­ing, within 48 hours of the dec­la­ra­tion. If Congress does not agree that mar­tial law should be de­clared or the writ of habeas cor­pus sus­pended, it can, by vot­ing jointly, or by a vote of at least a ma­jor­ity of all its mem­bers in reg­u­lar or spe­cial ses­sion, re­voke the procla­ma­tion or sus­pen­sion.

No dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law or the sus­pen­sion of the writ of habeas cor­pus can last more than 60 days un­less a ma­jor­ity in Congress, again vot­ing jointly, vote to ex­tend it if the in­va­sion or re­bel­lion shall per­sist and pub­lic safety re­quires it. The procla­ma­tion of mar­tial law or the sus­pen­sion of the writ may be re­viewed by the Supreme Court for suf­fi­ciency of the fac­tual ba­sis of the procla­ma­tion or sus­pen­sion if a cit­i­zen pe­ti­tions it. It has 30 days to de­cide on whether the dec­la­ra­tion or sus­pen­sion has a ba­sis.

I am not an ex­pert po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst, but for me the sit­u­a­tion in Ne­gros Ori­en­tal does not war­rant the dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law. The peace and or­der sit­u­a­tion is quite dif­fer­ent in Min­danao, which Duterte placed un­der mar­tial law when the Maute Group, an Is­lamic State of Iraq and Syria (Isis)-in­spired group, at­tacked Marawi City. In fact, Congress has sup­ported the dec­la­ra­tion and no less than the Supreme Court ruled in fa­vor of its le­gal­ity. In the Min­danao sit­u­a­tion, there ex­ists “re­bel­lion” by Mus­lim ex­trem­ist armed groups. In the Ne­gros Ori­en­tal sit­u­a­tion, on the other hand, even the po­lice said the killings were iso­lated sit­u­a­tions be­cause the in­ci­dents hap­pened not in a spe­cific place, but in var­i­ous places. The de­te­ri­o­rat­ing peace and or­der sit­u­a­tion can be ad­dressed by po­lice ac­tion. It’s purely a po­lice mat­ter.

I agree with the Com­mis­sion on Hu­man Rights that its dec­la­ra­tion will just com­pli­cate the mat­ter. Let the po­lice solve the killings and not a com­plete mil­i­tary takeover.*

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines

© PressReader. All rights reserved.