Martial law in Mindanao

Martial law in Mindanao

IS extending martial law in Mindanao constitutional?  The government’s top lawyer, Solicitor General Jose Calida says yes. He maintains that rebellion is still ongoing in several parts of Mindanao even though Marawi City has been declared liberated by the President himself.

“The President cited compelling reasons in his request to extend the proclamation of martial law, as well as the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, in the whole of Mindanao,” Calida holds.

According to Article VII, Section 8 of the 1987 Constitution, the declaration of martial law and the suspension of habeas corpus can only be done “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

Albay representative EdcelLagman, however, is of the opinion that extending martial law in Mindanao violates the limitations set by the Constitution.  “There is no actual rebellion or actual invasion in the entire Mindanao. This would transgress the safeguard imposed by the Constitution on a limited ground.”

Other legal luminaries say that extending martial in Mindanao is a preventive measure which is not warranted by the Constitution.  There is no such thing as “preventive martial law.”

All arguments are now water under the bridge.  On December 13, 2017, both houses of Congress overwhelmingly legislated the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2018.

Let’s cross our fingers that this may not be a repeat of that darkest chapter of Philippine historywhich Ferdinand Marcos wrapped sweetly with the icing of the “new society”.

There is no arguing with history that teems with despots in sheep’s clothing.  In politics there is no moderation with power.  It is naïve to believe that power is brandished for the love of country or the common good.  Lord Acton puts it curtly, “Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”