Friday, August 12, 2016

Martial law on Duterte's mind

Presidential spokespersons are supposed to clarify and explain in full detail what their principal, the President said. Frankly, the two spokespersons assigned by Duterte are failing in their jobs because both Fabella and Panelo probably do not really know the things inside Duterte's insidious mind.

The fact is---I also blame the Presidential Communications head for not doing his job of helping the Mayor-President explain certain things before the media. In their desperation, the agreed strategy of these presidential appointees is simply asked their media allies to appeal to the people to "auto-delete" certain words uttered by the President and just "don't read between the lines."

The problem with this appeal is that, words and opinions uttered by this President are always considered as "policies", because that is really how it should be accepted by the public. There is no other way. The president is head of government; hence, anything that goes out of his mouth, is considered gospel truth as far as official policies are concerned.

Hence, when the President, in one of his speeches, gives a threat of using martial law as one of his options just to guarantee the success of his anti-drugs campaign, there is nothing there which allows an alternate interpretation because the declaration is as clear as day---Duterte is thinking of declaring martial law if all other options fail.

Besides, there is basis to believe that this martial rule thing is always at the back of Duterte's mind. During the presidential campaign, Duterte has always used the martial law card as something like a trump card. He flashes it as if it is just a piece of candy.

Duterte's cavalier regard for strong-man rule is something which spoils people's expectations and possibly trust in him.

Manny Mogato, a veteran journalist, is the first one to posit an opinion that there is probably some truth behind the recent pronouncement made by Duterte regarding Martial rule. Mogato noticed that Duterte is going around military camps, and for Mogato, what's the reason for these visits? Is Duterte consolidating his forces for an eventual declaration of martial rule?

Not so fast, says Fabella. What Duterte threatened to do was just part of a rhetorical question, and the fact is,  Duterte has given his assurance that he would work for the success of the anti-drug campaign and other reforms, within the framework of the 1987 Constitution.

But of course, Atty Sal Panelo, who is Duterte's presidential legal adviser, such an option is available for the president " if public safety requires is", says the flamboyant lawyer of the Ampatuans. "Under the 1987 Constitution," Panelo says, " the President is empowered to declare martial rule in cases where there is invasion or rebellion or when the public safety requires it." This is where I admire lawyers such as Panelo--they probably think they have the power of interpreting the Charter the way it suits them.

Ask any law student and it is very clear that there are only two prerequisites for the declaration of martial law---first, invasion of a foreign force and second, rebellion. Rebellion here may also mean coup d'etat. Panelo even cautioned former Senate president Drilon for "strictly construing the Constitution", saying that interpreting this provision of the Charter may likewise be undertaken "not literally but in an in-depth manner." Again, this is another "admirable" trait of Panelo--he now knows how the Supreme Court thinks when Constitutional matters are concerned. Panelo thinks that the Constitutional framers meant three things when they created this provision.

Of course, Panelo would surely declare innocence the moment someone points to him that in Constitutional questions, the Supreme Court construe provisions of the Charter "literally" when it comes to the Charter. " When provisions of the law are clear, there is no other way but to interpret it n a literal manner."

Panelo probably feels that declaring martial law is an easy thing to do.

Well, for me, just try it and let's see what the people would do shortly after.

These people really think that they have what it takes to survive another people's revolt--they have this false belief that since Duterte's ratings are high, they now have enough ammunition to do whatever they want and even force things before the people.

Just try.