MAGANES: Who’s afraid of Martial Law?

June 4, 2017 at 7:09 pm Leave a comment

vir maganes

Last May 23 when President Rodrigo Duterte and his entourage were in Russia for an official visit, he issued Proclamation No. 216 declaring the whole Mindanao under Martial Law and subsequently suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus. His action was triggered by the entry of the ISIS-inspired Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf that sowed terror in Marawi City (Lanao Del Sur) where they burned schools, a Catholic Church, abducted persons and occupied a hospital. The event was unprecedented and was not expected by the Duterte administration. The action of the Maute Group has prompted the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to wage a war where lives in both camps were lost.

By declaring Martial Law in the southern part of the country, many of the critics of President Duterte were surprised and criticized him of being over-eager to declare Martial Law. They are now questioning his actions out of fear because of the previous experience of Martial Law under the late strongman President Ferdinand E. Marcos. Lest we forget, the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao was a follow through of Proclamation No. 55, series of 2016 when President Duterte declared Mindanao in a state of emergency on September 4, 2016.

But what is Martial Law?

Martial Law simply means a military rule wherein the AFP will be called to suppress any violent acts that resulted from rebellion, invasion and insurrection. The President being the Commander in Chief of AFP, has the sole right to declare Martial Law. Under the 1987 Constitution particularly Section 18 of Article VII, it says ” in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, the President may, for a period not exceeding 60 days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.” President Duterte’s action is therefore within the ambit of the Constitution and it is now within the governing powers of the Congress to reject it.

Martial Law is the President’s weapon to suppress wide-scale lawlessness much less to install a peaceful society. We are now witnessing another era of Martial Law but with a different approach from that of the Marcos Regime when Martial Law was declared in 1972 and ended in 1981. Martial Law under President Duterte is covered by the 1987 Constitution where civil institutions are still intact. Martial Law under Marcos was covered by the 1935 Constitution where civil rights were not in place. That’s why during the Marcos regime, the Congress was abolished, private properties were sequestered, media outlets were closed and countless of militants were either abducted, killed and or incarcerated. The latter became the subject of nationwide abuse of human rights.

The Martial Law under President Duterte has checks and balances. He could not prolong the 60 days period without the approval of the Congress and review of the Supreme Court. Civil rights are still in place. Congress as well as the Supreme Court are still operational. However, could it still be a subject of abuses by the military? It may. However, President Duterte has warned the military to respect people’s human rights and concentrate only on the rebels that are sowing terror in Mindanao. Safety nets are in place that media networks are free and continue to operate to give full details of what are taking place in Mindanao.

Both House of Representatives and the Senate House have not yet convened to reject the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. With majority of Duterte’s allies in Congress, rejection is far from reality. This means that the 60 days martial law period will be enforced by the military.

Supreme Court’s Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in her commencement speech to the graduates of Ateneo De Manila University has upheld the powers of President Duterte in declaring Martial Law. She said,” Allow me to clarify that the powers to declare Martial Law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus are expressly granted President Duterte under the Constitution. When properly implemented, this should not by itself unduly burden our country. This power was granted to allow the President to resolve the situation in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.There may be questions before the Supreme Court regarding whether this can be extended to encompass situations akin to invasion or rebellion, and what circumstances constitute rebellion, but we will not venture into that for now. Suffice it to say that the Martial Law power is an immense power that can be used for good, to solve defined emergencies; but all earthly powers when abused can result in oppression.

This opinion of the highest magistrate tantamount to allay fears from the people about martial law. However, let us be vigilant. Let us be observant of what’s happening around us and protect our rights from abuses and oppression, if there will be.

Who’s afraid of the present day martial law?

Martial Law is not for the law-abiding Filipinos. It is for the demoniac-thinking Filipinos who have no agenda except to overthrow the government. The Maute group whose members are linked to the ISIS (Islamic State of Iran and Syria) are but a bunch of nincompoops who are trying to instill fear and terror to the Filipinos.

The Mautes are two brothers who were former policemen were previously linked to drug syndicates in Mindanao. Their operations were large-scale illegal drugs peddling, which were nipped by the military and police forces. Because they could no longer pursue their illegal drugs activities, they aligned themselves with the Abu Sayyaf and lately with the ISIS. They were behind the abduction of foreigners as well as locals on kidnap-for-ransom activities.

The Martial Law in the south is a means to curtail the operations of the cited rebel groups. As President Duterte said this should be stopped in order for them not to penetrate the other islands of the country. If their operations will not be stopped as of now, the terrorism acts could spread as fire throughout the country and bigger problems will be out of control. God forbid!

(For comments and suggestions, email me at or Visit my blog The Roving Pen at m)


Entry filed under: News.

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