‘Lawless violence’ as basis for martial law declaration a necessity, says ConCom member

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 1 Aug) – The inclusion of “lawless violence” as one of the bases for declaring martial law under the draft constitution for a federal setup intends to address cyber violence and acts committed by “barbaric” groups, a member of the Constitutional Commission said during a forum on Wednesday at city hall.

“We’re confronted not by a simple case of lawless violence…. Cyber terrorism is the worst kind of violence today, although you can’t see it on the streets. If our computers don’t run, if airplanes can’t fly, who will take care of our people?” Antonio Arellano, a retired government prosecutor, said.

“That is the intent of the framers. If a provision is not clear, go to the intent of the framers,” he said, allaying fears the phrase “lawless violence” could be subjected to various interpretations and abuse.

The 1987 Constitution only provides for invasion and rebellion as the bases for the declaration of martial law.

Section 18 of Article VIII (Executive Department) of the draft federal charter provides: “In case of invasion, rebellion, or lawless violence, when the public safety requires it, he (the President) may, for a period not exceeding sixty (60) days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. “

Randolph Parcasio, another member of the commission, pointed out that a declaration of martial law is subject to the scrutiny of Congress which may revoke such proclamation.

“In other words, there is check and balance,” he said.

The 1987 Constitution also contains provisions for congressional check on the President’s martial law powers.

President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial on May 23 last year, the same day the five-month siege of Marawi City by Islamic State-inspired militants erupted.

The martial law proclamation has been extended twice, the second extension to end on December 31 this year.

In 1972, President Ferdinand E. Marcos placed the entire country under martial law, citing the Moro and communist insurgencies as basis. He abolished Congress and assumed decree-making powers.

The country’s martial law experience under Marcos, which was marked by summary executions and other human rights abuses, has made many Filipinos wary of any curtailment of rights and freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights.

Duterte had declared he wanted to place the entire country under martial law to combat criminality.

Along with federalism, the former Davao City mayor made the fight against illegal drugs and other crimes his battle cry when he ran for president in 2016. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)