Monday, December 15, 2008

The Martial Law Option

ART PANGANIBAN (formerly Chief Justice of SCoRP, turned PDI Pundit) addresses Arroyo's Options in case the chacha choo choo fails to leave the House. She could (1) declare martial law; (2) assume emergency rule; (3) run for Vice President in 2010 and assume the Presidency, again, like she did in 2001; or (4) play the new Kingmaker and control the next admin.

Caveats in reverse order: Option (4) would be the conventional dismount and is probably the safest course. But it is fraught with risk because if her horse doesn't win, and stripped of Presidential immunity, Gloria Arroyo could face years of prosecution.

Option 3 is interesting for its novelty and would be legal. She could run with Noli de Castro for example, win the Vice Presidency and have Noli resign for her to have six more years. (Yippee!)

Option 2, as Panganiban points out, would be highly unpopular and even face international censure.

Option 1 -- the martial law option -- is the most important and fascinating. Long before either the writ of habeas corpus is suspended or martial law imposed, Filipinos ought to familiarize themselves with the following provision of the Constitution. Although the 1987 charter is reputed to be full of anti martial law features, the reality is, under the present provision, the Lower House, by itself, in conspiracy with the President, COULD impose martial law indefinitely.

However, I disagree with Art Panganiban that under a legislative-executive martial law regime, that they could then convene Con-Ass and switch to a unicameral Parliamentary system. The provision itself is clear--"A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies..."
1987 Article 7 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.
Many people, including this writer, have become familiar with several key provisions of the 1987 Constitution as a result of President Arroyo's expert assaults and skillful utilization of them. This bitter experience continues and if anything promises to get worse as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo refuses to dismount the Tiger. I suppose that before it actually happens, people really ought to anticipate her next dire move and come to understand the provision that will surely come into play if GMA plays the Martial Law Card.

Just perusing this provision will reveal much terra incognita that ought to be threshed out now. For example, WHERE is the vote to be taken to either reject or uphold a declaration of martial law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus? The Batasan in Quezon City or the Senate in Pasay City? Who convenes and/or presides over such a session?


AdB said...

Do you really think she might consider the Martial Law option?


Devilish as she is, she just might be considering it now. Easy enough to provoke massive unrest and declare that she has no option but to declare a state of emergency. Wouldn't put it beyond her. After all, she planned the 2001 coup d'état so meticulously for a year and she got away with it.

john marzan said...

she won't consider martial law because the cbcp won't support it this time unlike her legitimacy troubles in 2004-05 Hello Garcigate.

DJB Rizalist said...

I don't think she even has to manufacture an excuse. I have a feeling something will happen, as CJ Panganiban suggests, perhaps a terrorist attack, or major economic crisis of some's very possible, in fact likely that some situation will arise before 2010 that could be a plausible pretext for martial law or even emergency rule.

EQ said...

She should quickly resort to the martial law option while Bush still in power.

I doubt if she can do it when Obama takes over.

DJB Rizalist said...

UHmm, I dunno about that. The American President is continuing in the great tradition of pretty much ignoring the Philippines. We truly are off the US radar screen and with a whole new cast of characters at the State Dept, who knows where will be in that firmament?

AdB said...


I was thinking along the same lines when I said easy enough to plan.

She could fabricate a terrorist attack or organize a military coup d'état (with the help of very loyal generals) which would "push" her to declare martial law. When that happens, there's no stopping her ruling ad vitam eternam?

Anonymous said...

If PGMA is able to stay in power regardless which of the 4 options she takes, the pinoys deserve it.

I had many a quarrel with realists when in at UPD. All those demos, you name it where ever they may be. Nothing came out of it. The real problem reveals itself over time. Pinoys are uto-uto and in self denial. No guts! Malaki ang bayag-bayagan, baog.

The writer for instance, good as he may be, helps no one - a armchair QB. Puro alanisys. Hanggan yada-tada na lang.

Ala na tayong pag-asa.

Dave said...

Dean is right. USA could not care less about PI at the moment.

Bad news. Lack of APPROPRIATE attention has biotten Uncle Sam in the rear before and can do so again.

Obama administration most likely to make noises about democracy while giving de facto cover to martial law, etc.

Hilary has to be considered the wild card as Secretary of State. No telling what she will do next.

USA should say that manipulative continuation would be of EXTREME financial concern.

Philippines should let it be known that there will be no prosecution for leaving office on schedule.

If you want her to exit, do not barricade the door.

john marzan said...

"Philippines should let it be known that there will be no prosecution for leaving office on schedule."

fuck that.