Sept. 22 2016, 11:16 p.m. – IT HAS been 44 years since the declaration of Martial Law that put the country under the tyrannical rule of Ferdinand Marcos. Now, with threats of terrorism and a deadly anti-drug war, is it possible for President Rodrigo Duterte to place the country once again under military rule?

UST Political Science Department Chairman Dennis Coronacion said declaring Martial Law would be “nearly impossible” since the 1987 Constitution crafted under former president Corazon Aquino is designed to prevent another dictatorship.

“Those who are spreading the rumors about the possibility of Martial Law have no idea about the difficult process to declare and keep it,” Coronacion said in an interview with the Varsitarian.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares agreed with Coronacion.

He doubted the chances of the President suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus proposed by Sen. Richard Gordon last Sept. 8 in a bid to strengthen the administration’s anti-drug campaign.

“I see no reason for it to be suspended,” Colmenares said in a chance interview.

“There is always a reason, invasion, rebellion, or a lawless violence. The government will not admit that there is lawless violence today,” he said.

Following Duterte’s declaration of a “state of lawlessness” after the Davao City bombing last Sept. 3, critics feared the resurgence of Martial Law.

Danilo Arao, professor at the University of the Philippines College of Mass Communication, said Martial Law could happen based on Duterte’s threats.

“The declaration of Martial Law may be feasible as may be gleaned from a previous policy pronouncement of Duterte himself when he threatened to impose it,” Arao said in an online interview.

Duterte hit back at Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno after the latter expressed concerns over the administration’s bloody anti-drug campaign. The tough-talking president threatened to declare Martial Law if the Supreme Court continued to meddle.

Basic human rights, civil liberties

Youth groups stressed the importance of basic human rights and civil liberties to counter the revival of military rule.

“Lapses in the laws may be played around with so we need to be vigilant about the endangering [of] basic civil rights and liberties similar to that of Martial Law,” Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said in an interview.

Elago called for adherence to the rule of law and due process amid the mounting cases of extrajudicial killings linked to the administration’s anti-drug campaign.

John Paul Rosos, spokesman of League of Filipino Students, expressed concern on the youth’s “ignorance” of Martial Law stories.

“We don’t want [Martial Law] to happen because history proved that it has indeed done nothing but worsen the condition of the country,” Rosos said.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the declaration of Martial Law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is allowed provided that an “invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

A report must be submitted to the Congress for voting. The legislative body may revoke its proclamation by a joint vote or at least a majority of all its members in a regular or a special session.

The Supreme Court may also review such declaration.

The declaration can last only 60 days unless Congress votes to extend it. M.A.C. Coloma and M.C.D. Marquez


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