Duterte proposal ‘appalling’ – Robredo
PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte wants the 1987 Constitution amended to allow the declaration of martial law without the approval of Congress and the Supreme Court, a statement swiftly condemned by the opposition.
Speaking before volunteer women in Pampanga on Thursday, Duterte said he wanted the declaration of martial law to be the sole prerogative of the President.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the Congress and the high court have the power to review the declaration of martial law.
“If I declare martial law and there’s an invasion now or a war, I cannot proceed on and on, especially if there’s chaos. I’ll have to go to Congress, I’ll have to go to the Supreme Court,” Duterte said in a mix of English and Filipino.
“What if the Supreme Court says something else, Congress says ‘yes,’ the other says ‘no’ or the other says ‘no’ and the other says ‘yes’? Where do I position myself? So I need to change that,” he added.
Duterte also argued that congressional and judicial review would defeat the purpose of declaring martial law.
“E kung magulo ang mundo? Kaya nga martial law na e. Para isang tao na lang ang mag-direkta [What if there is unrest in the world? That’s why we have martial law. So that only one person will give directives],” he said.
The President, however, added: “There is a safety measure there. I’ll just tell you later.”
‘Reckless reaction’ to Marcos regime
The 1987 Constitution states that the President may place the Philippines under martial law for no more than 60 days, and only in case of invasion or rebellion.
Section 18, Article VII of the Charter states that the President may likewise suspend the writ of habeas corpus within 48 hours from the proclamation of martial law.
The President is required to submit a report in person or in writing to Congress regarding the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Congress, through a majority vote, can overturn the declaration. Congressional approval is also required to extend the declaration of martial law.
The Supreme Court may review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or its extension, if a citizen petitions it to do so.
The President said the provisions on martial law in the Constitution were a “reckless reaction” to the Marcos regime. “We were just swayed by our anger,” he said.
He pointed out that Marcos used the 1935 Constitution as basis for declaring military rule.
“That Constitution was not a product of Marcos. He never took part in it. It was already the 1935 Constitution,
that’s Claro Recto, Quintin Paredes. The successors had no fault,” he added.
This was the third time Duterte publicly floated the idea of declaring martial law.
In August, Duterte asked Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno if she would rather have the President declare martial law after her criticism of the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.
In October, Duterte said he was thinking of declaring military rule because of the illegal drug trade in the country, during a meeting with the Jewish community in Makati City.
‘Worst Christmas gift’
Reacting to the President’s statements, Vice President Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo said Friday the call to remove constitutional restrictions in declaring Martial law was “appalling.”
“For President Duterte to challenge the democratic safeguards of the very Constitution he swore to uphold on June 30, 2016 is appalling. The threat of a return to Martial Law and one-man rule is the worst Christmas gift to the Filipino people,” Robredo, a lawyer like Duterte, said in a statement.
“To refer to specific provisions in the 1987 Constitution prohibiting such as a ‘reckless reaction’ to the Marcos regime is an insult to the experience of the Filipino nation that endured great suffering and hardship under the Martial Law regime,” Robredo added.
Sen. Grace Poe, whom Duterte defeated in the May presidential election, said: “Allowing the President’s declaration of martial law without the oversight of congress or the Supreme Court as to its validity is the wrong reason to amend the Constitution.”
For Sen. Leila de Lima, whom the President has accused of being involved in the proliferation of illegal drugs, the statements proved that Duterte was unfit to lead.
“We have to understand by now that all the President’s statements are fentanyl-induced. He can no longer be considered to be in a normal state of mind,” de Lima said, referring to the President’s choice pain-killer.
“The Cabinet should seriously consider declaring him unfit to perform the duties of the President and relay such opinion to Congress, in order to save this nation once and for all from the ramblings of a madman,” de Lima added.
‘We did not elect a dictator’
At the House of Representatives, opposition lawmakers blasted President Duterte for seeking a “constitutional dictatorship.”
“There’s a reason why popular leaders sometimes fail: they fall prey to the intoxication of power,” said Ifugao Rep Teodoro Baguilat.
Akbayan partylist Rep. Tom Villarin said: “We did not elect him (Duterte) to be a dictator nor to rule over us like a king.”
“Even Christendom welcomed the birth of Jesus who was born in a manger. Humility is the virtue of great leaders. I hope the President takes a lesson or two from our celebration of Christmas,” Villarin added.
Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano said the public should not take the President’s pronouncements lightly, considering Duterte had admitted to murdering at least three people when he was mayor of Davao City.
“The people should be wary of such pronouncement of the President. It only shows his dictatorial tendencies.
Remember, Duterte was a virtual dictator of Davao City for over two decades where thousands died under questionable circumstances allegedly carried out by Davao Death Squad. He wants that kind of power in the national level,” Alejano, a former Marine captain, said.
House Deputy Minority Leader Jose Atienza of Buhay party-list said: “We cannot, once more, allow one man to also make the decision by himself. We learned from Mr. Marcos. We say, Never again!”
UN human rights chief a ‘joker, idiot’
In the same speech on Thursday, President Duterte called the United Nations human rights chief a “joker” and an “idiot” for saying that he should be investigated for murder.
Duterte said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein had no right to tell him what to do, saying that the Philippines, as a member of the international body, pays for the salary of UN employees.
“The United Nation human rights [chief]. He said Duterte is a murderer and he should be charged for murder. This guy is either a joker or medyo sira ang ulo [a bit insane],” the President said.
On Tuesday, al-Hussein said judicial authorities in the Philippines must demonstrate their commitment to the rule of law by launching an investigation into the murders involving Duterte.
On the same day, Philippine ambassador-designate to the United Nations Teodoro “Teddyboy” Locsin Jr. called for an end to the wave of killings of drug suspects and the withdrawal of a bill seeking to re-impose the death penalty.
But Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. slammed al-Hussein’s call, pointing out that the killings occurred during law enforcement operations.