Thursday, December 21, 2006

Scary Plan Z (Martial Law Provision Has Congress Voting Jointly)

ABSCBN News (ANC) reports a claim by Senator Jinggoy Estrada that National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales has been meeting with Generals of the Armed Forces on a plan to declare martial law, possibly using as a pretext another report that some sixty Congressmen and Senators have been receiving death threats. I was just listening to Tony Velasquez interviewing Presidential Chief of Staff Michael Defensor about the accusation. Defensor was asked about the revelations made by outgoing Defense Secretary Avelino Cruz, that in November 2005, US Director of National Intelligence, John Negroponte, made an unscheduled emergency visit to Manila to express American disapproval of the martial law option at the height of the Garci crisis.

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 18

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.
IN OTHER WORDS, that House Majority and the Palace could get away with this, at least enough to discombobulate the elections.

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.


Jego said...

Theyre betting the the Undecideds will still remain safely in the sidelines when they do this martial law thing, eh? Now that's a bet I'd like to call and raise.

manuelbuencamino said...


The part that comes after what you highlighted in red has been deleted in the proposed cha-chas of Sigaw and the House.. Check the matrixes that were done by PCIJ.

First, their declaration of martial law would be freed from the Supreme Court's review. Note that this power to review the factual basis for martial is unique in the 1987 Constitution. It was one of those safeguards against would-be tyrants.

Second, under the proposed charter the constitution can be suspended upon declaration of martial Law!

Third, the scope of the suspended writ covers everything under the sun and a person, any person, can be detained for as long as the writ is suspended without the requirement of filing charges within a set time period.

These provisions were introduced in the 1987 charter as a protection against the excesses of martial law.

I wrote an article on this terrifying changes a couple of months ago, but I guess no one read it. But really you should compare the martial law provisions of the 3 charters, the 1987, the ConCom/Sigaw, and the Jaraulla version.

I think it should be brought to people's attention. You may want to write about it in depth since you have a lot of readers