• Govern well if you can, forget about martial law

    16
    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    FRANCISCO S. TATAD

    A devout and gentle friend has suggested that I lock up my laptop, look for a crevice in a rock somewhere, where (like a sea gull) I could bury my head while the storm blows, for a storm (he says) is coming, which would be quite nasty to everyone who believed in freedom. Grave dangers are coming, he says—the Church would be persecuted, social and political institutions crushed, the media suppressed, journalists jailed or killed “while resisting arrest,” or assassinated by a newly organized corps of assassins. Beside this new Reign of Terror, the brutality of the drug war would be like child’s play; you’d be wishing all we had was the state killing machine that exterminated the small fry in the slums and in slippers, but never touched the big guys.

    Out of respect for my friend, I had to tremble a little. But I instantly felt ashamed of myself. How could I? I have survived storms, floods, shipwrecks and tremblors, defied thugs on the campaign trail, disarmed goons without recourse to force or violence. I have taught my children what my parents had taught me, never to be afraid of anything that threatens harm to the body but not the soul. If I cut my tongue now, whose tongue will the tyrant cut when the time for cutting tongues comes? If I flee my country now, what will my grandchildren say when their friends start talking of their grandfathers?

    But my friend said the new Terror would unleash evils we have not seen before. I thought this was pure exaggeration, except that I could not surmise the limits of his exaggeration. Then I heard the President speak. This was Monday morning. I was being interviewed by TV host Howie Severino on GMA-7, when a tape was played of DU30’s speech last Saturday before the Davao City Chamber of Commerce. I could not believe what I was hearing.

    As usual, the President was talking of his “war” on drugs, which has already killed over 6,200 suspects. The marching orders of the police are to “neutralize” all illegal drug personalities, and the police and the so-called “vigilantes” are doing all the killings. It isn’t at all like in Mexico or Colombia, where the drug cartels are armed to the teeth and engage government troops in gun battles. Bato de la Rosa’s troops are in no apparent danger of being pushed back by a superior counter-force of drug runners. It is a one-sided war. It could become “virulent,” as the President puts it, but only because of the extra-judicial killings, not because the drug lords would now come out in the open and inflict untold casualties on the police and the civilian population.

    DU30’s idea of duty
    But this is not how the President puts it. “I have to protect the Filipino people,” he told his Davao audience. It was his latest double-speak. “It’s my duty. And I tell you now, if I have to declare martial law, I will declare it. Not about invasion, insurrection, not about danger. I will declare martial law to preserve my nation, period. Wala akong pakialam diyan sa Supreme Court. (I don’t care about the Supreme Court.) Because the right to preserve one’s life, and my nation, my country transcends everything else, even the limitations…Walang makapipigil sa akin—walang invasion, invasion. (Nothing can stop me—no such thing as invasion, invasion.)”

    This was certainly a mouthful. And the press dutifully and correctly reported it. But apparently realizing DU30 had exceeded himself, Malacañang accused the press of “misreporting” what the President had said. Chimed in Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar: “We…decry the latest misreporting that the President will declare martial law simply ‘if he wants to’ or that ‘no one can stop the President from declaring martial law.’ Such headlines sow panic and confusion to many. We consider this kind of reportage as the height of journalistic irresponsibility.”

    To this, a rejoinder from the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said it was Andanar’s principal—- DU30—-who was sowing panic and confusion to the public. Bull’s eye.

    From the Senate, Minority Leader Ralph Recto dismissed DU30’s statement as mere bluster, without any constitutional basis and therefore not to be taken seriously. This was a breath of fresh air from the sterile, soporific and stagnant Senate. One hopes that with this statement, Ralph Recto has decided to step into the shoes of his revered patriarch, the late Senator Claro Mayo Recto, one of the greatest Filipinos that ever graced the Senate, a name worthier than that of many presidents.

    Both Ralph’s analysis and prescription are correct. Like a country bumpkin who tries to impress his uneducated listeners with his big talk, DU30 is probably best ignored. But he occupies the highest seat of power in the land and claims the biggest media time and space for his profanities. How can the sensational and shallow mass media, which have all but forgotten the art and value of enterprise reporting and prefer to be spoon fed with political garbage from the cheapest source, ignore the zaniest things the President says? Is organized avoidance of DU30 even remotely possible?

    What the press can do
    In the golden age of Philippine journalism, when patriots and intellectuals manned the ramparts of the Fourth Estate, newspapers and newspapermen of note took common positions on public issues and ran joint editorials against political abuses and any perceived official debasement of public mores and cultural values. Is such an idea even remotely possible today, when obscenity has become a national currency and the most widely self-advertised proponent of the cheapest morality is anointed as the official guardian of morality in the entertainment world, and none of the sensitive organs of taste and thought are disturbed?

    More to the point, after only six months, during which DU30 has turned the entire government into an echo chamber and a rubber stamp, why is he obsessed with the use of extra-constitutional means to control the State? What allows him to believe that he could equate anything he likes to do with “duty” and prescribe any cure he may concoct, even one that’s worse than the disease? The President’s real duty, to which he took a solemn oath when he assumed office, is to “preserve and defend (the) Constitution, execute (the nation’s) laws, do justice to every man, and consecrate (himself) to the service of the Nation.” Has he done all this, and found it not enough to satisfy his thirst for public service? Why is he talking nonsense about martial law?

    Let’s quote it once more
    For the nth time, I will quote, in full, what the Constitution says when and under what circumstances, and how martial law may be invoked. Sec. 18, Article VII provides:

    “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 the 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 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 when civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ. The suspension of the privilege of the writ 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, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.”

    A stupid but binding provision
    We have to agree with DU30 that this provision emasculates and bastardizes the martial law provision of the 1935 and 1973 Constitutions. It reduces to absurdity the so-called Commander-in-Chief provision of the Constitution. It is absurd to expect the President and Commander-in-Chief to report to Congress, assuming it could still meet in the middle of an invasion or rebellion, when public safety can no longer be guaranteed, and ask Congress to decide whether or not the President and Commander-in-Chief is responding correctly to the situation. It was a group of political innocents under Cory Aquino, who were reacting to the stories about martial law though not to the horrors that had prompted Marcos to declare martial law, that gifted us this perverted “reform.”

    We have to rewrite this provision. But the people, who are the real authors of the Constitution, must be the ones to do it. DU30 cannot do it because under the Constitution, he has no role to play in proposing constitutional revisions or amendments. The Congress and the people alone have the right to do so, but it must be a Congress whose members represent the electorate rather than the President. While this provision remains, the President’s duty is to respect and faithfully comply with it. For DU30 to say he will not be governed by it is to say he is prepared to stage a coup against the Constitution, the government and people of the Philippines.

    This is exactly what his communist partners are said to be plotting. DU30 must try to extricate himself from it. After six months of petty despotism, his concern should not be how to expand or extend the reach of his extra-constitutional powers. It should be to show that he has a moral, political and social philosophy and a program of government by means of which he can govern the nation well. Despite all the crooked surveys trying to assure him, and the bulk of ignorant and intimidated Filipinos, that a high percentage of unknown people are satisfied with him, we do not see a single reason why that should be, and we have not seen a single program or activity that promises life more than death to most Filipinos.

    fstatad@gmail.com

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    16 Comments

    1. If duterte does not follow the constitutional process of declaring martial law then he is undermining the constitution which he is supposed to uphold and protect.
      It is time therefore to unseat him because he is guilty of treason and the armed forces should not follow any order from him as such orders would be unlawful.

    2. Please be reminded that the house inherited by the now incumbent leader from the previous administration is a “house of lawlessness”. If that house is a clean house and a good one , do you think Duterte could win the election ? He simply does not fit the script. I think he would never be where he is now had that house been a “house of godliness “.

      Rather , we would perhaps be seeing a leader whose hands are clasped in front as if in prayers doing his rounds in a priestly office. Destiny has never been blind—it sees in this man the character in the mould of the biblical David that make for an astute warrior. He is now facing a Goliath of lawless enemies. He must fit the shoes of that revered fighter of The Lord pretty well.

      He must face lawlessness squarely and with impunity just like David. This role is not meant for cowards. The past leader had been very hospitable to lawless criminals , drug lords and all corrupters in his government.

      So that was it! We now have a palace of lawlessness where so much garbage has been dumped into us by those ancient serpents! We have a whale of a job to clean up everything and to burn them with unquenchable fire!

      We need that proverbial “man of lawlessness” in the bible in order to subdue all the godless enemies besieging our nation. He is called the man of lawlessness , not because he is a sinner , but because he is a hater of sins and sinners and everything which go against sound wisdom. This is the positive man of lawlessness , not the evil one of this dark world.

      The president has been spewing fire , here , there and everywhere , thereby creating division—this is to fulfil the script of Christ which says : Luke 12:49-51 (ESV)

      Not Peace, but Division

      49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled!

      50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished!

      51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.

      This man was chosen to accomplish what the script called for. He is not serving himself but he is actually serving the essence of Christ. Were not prophecies meant to be accomplished among men?

      The deeds of those lawless enemies keep on coming upon us like an avalanche—so we must bring that fire to burn even more , so as to put asunder those lawless enemies of ours.

    3. “The media is patriotic and intellectuals, the people is the author of the cory constitution?” if this is what media think, it must be high on something, or getting a fat payola for making the most shameless claim of itself. Only those at peak of “mount stupid: dunning-kruger” can make such claim without guilt.

      Revolutionary government is best, but martial will work to cleanup scums like this “intellectual/patriotic writer” and their principal sponsors…

    4. Corruption is very well embedded in those people who now and then sits in Congress (Congressmen and Senators) whose primary interest is for themselves alone ,period. Filipinos all those years fend for themselves, in order to survive .

    5. MARIANO PATALINJUG on

      Yonkers, New York
      18 January 2017

      Former Senator FRANCISCO S. TATAD here suggests what needs to be done in terms of correcting certain provisions of the Constitution which he has discovered to be inimical to the rights and freedoms of the Filipino people.

      Given a Congress that is the rubber-stamp of Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte, there appears no way, to me, for his sensible suggestions ever to gain traction.

      As a consequence, Little Tyrant Duterte will have his way–and “his way” cannot be beneficial to the country and the Filipino people.

      Even as these lines are written, Duterte’s REIGN OF TERROR is gaining traction all over the country, premised speciously on his War on Drugs. For all purposes, Duterte has made the Constitution a doormat–and you do not hear the PHILIPPINE CONSTITUTION ASSOCIATION [PHILCONSA], its supposed Guardian, raising its voice in protest in its defense.

      Neither do you hear LUIS ANTONIO CARDINAL TAGLE utter a word in protest, let alone a denunciation, of Duterte’s psychotic Reign of Terror. His silence, as the head of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines, is “deafeaning!” That makes him appear as a “COWARD”–and thus a Catholic prelate who does not deserve the headgear of a Cardinal. I suggest that Pope Francis strip him of his rank as a Cardinal, and reduce him to the status of a parish priest.

      MARIANO PATALINJUG
      patalinjugmar@gmail.com

      • Every word has the power to kill or to give life. You always address the president as “little tyrant” , and you give it a negative connotation for you want to kill him with an evil motive. Is that your own way of treating a ruler?

        Did you know that if a person uses a word with an intention to murder another person , instead of giving him life—belongs to the Devil? The Devil , if you still do not know , is a murderer even from the beginning. And no murderer has life in himself for he exists only to kill.
        You may very well educate yourself by reading the following excerpts from the certified book of the world.

        Romans 13:3-5 (KJV)
        3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
        4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.
        5 Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake.

        Observe how the president deal with the good and the evil—he is kind and generous to good people and the law-abiding , but he suddenly change demeanour against the evil ones , the lawless criminals , the so-called destructive wild dogs who are sowing terror among the people.

        He definitely hates lawless criminals , yes he is a terror and a tyrant to these dark forces but not to the good ones.

        You must qualify your every word because as it is written : by your own words you will be condemned , and by your own words you will be acquitted.

    6. Mr. Tatad, I wish there were more columnists and journalists who would take up the cudgels and defend the Constitution and the people of the Philippines. Also, would more Congressmen and Senators speak out on the current abuses and killings that that threaten the nation.

      Indeed the people need to be wary of the Communists who may be waiting for the right opportunity to take over the country. Incidentally what has happened to the Executive Secretary, who has 12 or so major departments under his control. If he is working hard in these departments why is there hardly any mention of him in the news?

      Mr. Tatad, please continue to take care of yourself. The nation needs your wise counsel.

    7. I agree with all the points raised by Former Senator Kit Tatad in his column today in Manila Times. The President must faithfully abide with the Constitution, especially its provisions on Martial Law as the nation’s highest official, he has the obligation to do so and in leading other public officials in doing the same thing, and as he has to carry out the mandate of his oath of office which is to “preserve and defend” the Constitution at all times, which our good columnist quoted in his column. And the President shall not violate the Constitution.

    8. I agree with all the points raised by Former Senator Kit Tatad in his column today in Manila Times. The President must faithfully abide with the Constitution, especially its provisions on Martial Law as the nation’s highest official, he has the obligation to do and as he has to carry out the mandate of his oath of office which is to “preserve and defend” the Constitution at all times, which our good columnist quoted in his column. And the President shall not violate the Constitution.

    9. Perhaps Fentanyl abuse has really made the president lose his mind. Duterte maybe the most powerful person in the country but there is something more powerful than him… the Philippine Constitution.

    10. Through violence, you may ‘solve’ one problem, but you sow the seeds for another.
      – Tenzin Gyatso, the 14th Dalai Lama

    11. Even if you quote the provisions of the constitution a thousand times about Du30 being its defender, if he has already have a mind-set, he will do it.

    12. The Great Defiant on

      matagal na kaming patay…
      “patay-gutom” ogag….

      ikaw dakdak pa rin ng dakdak…
      “t…ng na mo”…

      • melissa salazar on

        talgang ang tamang pagiisip mukhang napakabigat intindihin sa mga bulag na taga sunod ni poong nazeraan. malamang taga davao ka. ganyan mag isip ang mga taga davao

    13. 16 million Pilipinos voted for Duterte. The constitution will stop him from declaring Martial Law. If what he is saying is what he is going to do, it is against the Constitution. My opinion is Dutertes speeches is coming from the effects of drugs he is taking. Imagine having migraine every day and a daily dose of medicine. There you can see the effect of weird announcements .