The Daily Manila Shimbun


No reason to be anxious about martial law as Constitution still operates: Panelo

May 25, 2017

President Rodrigo Duterte's chief legal counsel on Thursday allayed the fear of Filipinos about the proclamation of martial law in the entire Mindanao, citing the safeguards provided in the Constitution. In a statement, Secretary Salvador Panelo said the imposition of martial law does not suspend the Constitution. "Given the safeguards provided by the Constitution, and the president's pure intention to do everything within his power to maintain peace and order and ensure the safety of the public, there should be no reason for the public to be anxious about the proclamation of martial law," he said. Some human rights groups and the Communist Party of the Philippines have condemned Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao. They raised concern that more human rights abuses might be committed by security forces as warrantless arrests and searches, checkpoints, and other measures would be implemented in Mindanao due to the crisis in Marawi City involving the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group. The Duterte administration has been accused of violating human rights and rule of law due to his bloody war against illegal drugs, resulting to the deaths of thousands of individuals. Panelo said under the Constitution, the proclamation of martial law is limited to a period of 60 days and any extension, in case rebellion or invasion persists and public safety requires it, it would be subject to the approval of Congress, voting jointly by a vote of at least a majority of all its members. Within 48 hour from the proclamation of martial law, he said the president is required to submit a report to Congress, which is required to convene itself if not in session. Congress, voting jointly, would then have the power to revoke the proclamation of martial law by a vote of at least a majority of all its members, which revocation the president cannot set aside, Panelo said. He said that any citizen may require the Supreme Court, in an appropriate proceeding, to review the declaration of martial law and the Supreme Court would be required to decide upon the matter within 30 days. "Finally, to be clear, and as provided in the Constitution, 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," Panelo said. (Celerina Monte/DMS)