Defensor talked like he didn't know anything about the interview of Sec. Cruz on Ricky Carandang's The Big Picture in which they discussed Negroponte's visit, instead parrying the question by wondering whether Nonong Cruz had actually made such a revelation. Granted, Sec. Cruz did not make a categorical, explicit statement that that is what happened, but it scared me that Defensor denied knowing of even this previous report.
Imposing military rule over the Philippines in order to derail the upcoming 2007 elections, in which the Palace is expected to see a Hanging Senate elected, is not completely implausible. Defensor's references to the safeguard provisions in the 1987 Constitution in cases when the President declares martial law or suspends the privilege of the write of habeas corpus only made me more uneasy, since they happen to involve the Congress VOTING JOINTLY using a simple majority rule to overrule OR affirm such a Presidential declaration--
Article VII - Executive Department - Section 18IN OTHER WORDS, that House Majority and the Palace could get away with this, at least enough to discombobulate the elections.
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 or rebellion. 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 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 of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.
A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion.
During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.
This simple fact means the Palace is at least aware of its options for such a Plan Z.
(This provision is the only instance I know of in the 1987 Constitution in which the framers explicitly ignore the bicameral design and architecture of the Congress. It is part of the character of the 1987 charter that could use uhmm, character change.)
UPDATE (via ABSCBN Interactive): Tremendous piece in the Philippine Star by Jaime Laude on resigned Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz. This tells the story of how competence and vision to reform and professionalize the Armed Forces have been trumped by politics and the needs of political survival. It also offers a glimpse into the chaos that has enveloped the Defense Department since dozens of key top level personnel, including undersecretaries and program directors decided to leave with Nonong Cruz in disgust. Already they are being replaced by mentats like Ebdane and Lomibao. Only the commies, terrorists and trapos can be happy about this.