Thursday, June 4, 2009

Was Tuesday A Dress Rehearsal For Martial Law Vote?

It's not Con-Ass we ought to worry about.  It's Martial Law and No Elections in 2010.   Under the 1987 Constitution, if President Arroyo were to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus or declare Martial Law, the members of Congress, voting in joint session as one body with no distinction between House and Senate, may revoke such proclamation, or in the same manner, uphold and extend such proclamation.  Thus what we may have witnessed at the Bastusang Pambansa last Tuesday night with the ramrodding of Con-Ass Resolution 1109,  was actually a Full Dress Rehearsal for a future Joint Session of Congress to revoke or uphold a suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus or a Declaration of Martial Law.   Note that 1987's brilliant innovation can be exercised by the Members of the Congress meeting in JOINT SESSION, with  the power to immediately revoke OR to indefinitely extend  a presidential declaration of Martial Law or a suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.  If such a proclamation happens before the 2010 elections, it would be these very same Congressmen who will be holding that future session.  Moreover, there is none of that Constitutional ambiguity that attends the chacha provision. Here it is explicitly clear: JOINT VOTING. 
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.

Now, many people believe that the 1987 Constitution is a deeply flawed document on many counts. It is floridly verbose in certain parts, while in others, risibly terse, as in the Chacha provision. But if there was anything this Constitution was touted to do, it was supposed to help prevent the rise of another fascist dictator like Ferdinand Marcos and to blunt the abuse of of Executive weapons like suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus and imposing Martial Law. But one cannot fail to be alarmed by this provision after watching the recent career of President Arroyo cuckolding a Lower House full of dirty old congressmen and getting them to march in locked goose step to her hidden baton.

Given how shaky the legal ground is under their feet on Chacha, and how comparably solid it is on the matter of Martial Law, it is not unreasonable to suppose that one is just being used  to ignite the conditions for the imposition  of the other.  An all-Gloria Supreme Court rounds out the Hallelujah Scenario ("and she shall reign forever and ever!") 

There are many opportunities that could arise in the next year for emergency rule of some kind to discombobulate the campaign and the elections themselves.  There are epidemic threats, insurgent threats, terrorist threats, people power threats, global economic threats and natural disasters that could all arise to justify it.  And if necessary such triggering events could also be concocted, for example an assassination attempt against the President or her immediate family.

It would seem from last Tuesday's developments, that should such a need or opportunity arise and other measures to save the President fail, there is at least a honed and practiced machinery in the HoR for delivering a vote in her favor, no matter what.

1 comment:

manuelbuencamino said...

interesting. Plausible. And scary