Sunday, May 28, 2017

Marawi City and Martial Law

It is heartbreaking to see the siege of Marawi City. Thousands of residents were affected by the terroristic acts of the Maute Group, which has allied itself with the ISIS, another terrorist group which sows nothing but misguided hate.

It was understandable, then, for the president to take control of the situation, and a tool for doing so is by imposing martial law.

Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution states that:

 "In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.
"The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without any need of a call.
"The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing."
This is not the Marcos Martial Law, in which the president preempted everyone from reacting adversely, cutting the voice of the legislature and cowing the Judiciary into falling in line.

In the present constitution, the Congress shall convene and may revoke or approve or extend the proclamation. The Supreme Court, in turn, may review the the proclamation.

It is thus imperative for these two branches to not just meekly dance to the tune of the executive and check the propriety and legality of the martial law declaration.

Martial law is not inherently evil. If it were, the framers of the 1987 Constitution would have removed such power entirely, especially considering the country's wounds from the tyranny of martial law were still fresh then.  It is a necessary tool for extreme situations such as invasion or rebellion, which is, depending on your viewpoint, is happening now.

On the part of all the people, and not just the Congress and Judiciary, we have to remain extra vigilant in order that the depth, breadth, and duration of the martial law are just enough to restore order in Marawi City.

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