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A Call For Vigilance As GMA ‘Experiments’ With Martial Law In Maguindanao; Move Called ‘Baseless’

December 5, 2009

I lived through Marcos’ martial law.

As the dictator consolidated his hold on absolute power then his sycophant even call Proclamation 1081 ‘”smiling martial.”

Not long after that his legal brain trust even crafted the phrase and legal construct called “constitutional authoritarianism.”

“The New Society “ was borne with volumes of coffee books espousing Ferdinand Marcos’ “ideology for the New Flipino.”

But as political charades authored by dictators go it did not last.

We know what 20 years ofthe Marcos dictatorship wrought: thousands of forced disappearances aside from thousand more documented cases of torture most vile.

The security crisis in Mindanao has now been cited as the casus belli for President Gloria Malacapagal Arroyo’s “limited” proclamation of martial law which includes the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus which, simply puts, allows warrantless arrests!

I can’t but recall that at the height of the Abu Sayyaf’s killing rampage In Sulu and Basilan, then Pres. Estrada do ordered what was termed “!all out war” in the area.

But aware of how such action must be done with prudence, Estrada found no need to proclaim martial law down South.

Now Pres. Arroyo has embarked on this dangerous path five months before we elect her successor!

By the Constitution, Pres, Arroyo has 60 days to complete the task of “ending the lawless violence and threat of rebellion in Maguindanao.

2010’s leading presidential candidate, Senator Noynoy Aquino said the martial poclamatio was “baseless” with his reaction echoed by Congressman Didagen Dilangalen.

Opposition Sen. Francis Escudero said the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao is legally defective and expressed concern that it could be a prelude to dictatorial rule.

“I hope this is not the case of Maguindanao today, the Philippines tomorrow,” he said.

The opposition senator pointed out that Section 18, Article 7 of the Constitution explicitly states that only in case of invasion or rebellion, and when the public safety requires it, can the commander-in-chief exercise the extreme option of declaring martial law.

“These are not obviously present in Maguindanao,” he said. “The current state of emergency would have sufficed to address the clamor for justice for the massacre victims and restore the rule of law in the province.”

“For the longest time, this government has tolerated and promoted warlordism in Mindanao. Now, it seeks to be a warlord to undo what it has done,” Escudero noted.

“On its face, the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao is legally defective. The President’s decision as well to suspend the writ of habeas corpus even during martial law is highly irregular. I am sure that Congress will act on this matter without delay.”

“I will oppose any attempt to use this tragic and reprehensible incident to prevent the truth about these arms caches and documents that may related to electoral fraud from coming out through the imposition of martial law. I call on the people to be vigilant and to resist moves by those who seek to rule beyond 2010.”

Dean Marvic Leonen of the UP College of Law pointed out that the Constitution mandates that Congress convene within 24 hours of the martial proclamation to examine its validity.

Executive Secretary announced the martial law proclamation at 7:30 this morning but Pres. Arroyo supposedly signed Proclamation 1959 at 9:30 p.m. of Friday.

Executive Sectretary Ermita and Press Secretary Remonde took pains this morning to emphasize thatcivilian rule would continue in Maguindanao.

But a video clip just aired by ABS-CBN showed AFP Eastern Mindanao Command chief Lieutenant Gen. Raymundo Ferrer announcing that forces under him “have taken over control of Maguindanao by vurtue of my being the most senior military commander here.”

“We assure everyone that we will coordinate our actions with the police and strive to avoid any violence in our operation,” Ferrer said.

As the alarm bells sound, we must, all of us, safeguard our freedoms!

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