It seems critics of President Rodrigo Duterte would like him to fight terrorists with one hand tied behind his back. Despite Duterte’s declaration of a “state of lawlessness” being perfectly legal under the current constitution, various social media “activists”, mostly staunchly loyal to the previous administration of former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III, have, yet again, raised the spectre of Martial Law.
According to Ranhillo Aquino-Callanghan, Dean of the San Beda Graduate School of Law, a “state of lawlessness” is nothing to be alarmed about. Aquino-Callanghan writes that a State of Lawlessness is no more than the following…
It lays down the premise for the exercise of the “calling out” power: Article VII of the Constitution allows him to call out the armed forces to suppress “lawless violence”. The result is that law-enforcement is not left only to the police but is entrusted to the Armed Forces who will assist the police in quelling mayhem.
This is a normal function of a Philippine president invoking tools granted him by the Constitution to deal with emergency situations that pose grave risks to the nation’s security. Inquirer columnist Oscar Franklin Tan notes in his Opinion piece today that the “even without extraordinary steps such as martial law, the President’s daily discretion over the military and law enforcement is extremely broad.” The soundness of the legal foundations supporting that presidential discretion to wield state forces in times of emergency is such that…
The Supreme Court has upheld every call-out of the Armed Forces to suppress lawless violence for decades.
Unfortunately, Martial Law Crybabies are amongst the noisiest of cliques in the Philippines’ chattering classes. Their fingers are always on a hairline trigger waiting for any opportunity to fire the Martial Law Bogeyman round into any public discourse on peace and order. They flood social media timelines with their fear-mongering drivel about the “evils” of Martial Law which they rabidly associate to the “dark ages” of the regime of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
The recent terrorist act that hit a Davao City night market in Roxas Street in which 14 people died and 67 were injured calls for swift and forceful action. The brazenness of the attack reveals an enemy that holds no respect for any principle upheld by the Philippines’ self-described “civil society”. As such, it is quite baffling that a supposedly respected sector of society would balk at the choices taken by Duterte who wants nothing more than to spring into action and take control of a situation that could easily spiral into chaos.
This is not the time to be a Martial Law Crybaby.
Noted academic Antonio Contreras asks that we consider how much violence need transpire in our midst before the State is “allowed to protect itself without being labeled as venturing into authoritarianism.” Indeed, Contreras encourages Filipinos to consider that, perhaps, it is high time they confront the possibility that their “freedom-loving” character may have reached perverse levels to the detriment of their own security as a nation…
Have we lost our sense of citizenship in our pursuit of our individual freedom and rights? Have we become too individualistic and selfish, and reduced the state to a mere servant of our sovereign right to be free, without any right to protect itself even when it is threatened?
That perversion of “democratic” principles seems to have reached its crescendo in the notion propagated by the Aquino camp that the Filipino public are the “boss” of the government. True, perhaps. But to take that concept to literal extremism seems to be a habit the Yellow camp have applied once too many nowadays.
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