Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Martial Law?

There's no shortage of people comparing President Arroyo's Proclamation No. 1017 and General Order No.5, declaring a State of Emergency in the Philippines with President Marcos' Proclamation 1081, declaring Martial Law in the Philippines.

Conrado De Quiros has this to say about Proc. 1017 in his column
"Proclamation 1017-it is one of God's mysterious ways that that should sound like Marcos' Proclamation 1081 plunging the country into the darkness of martial law-is a martial law decree, not an emergency act."
While Manuel L. Quezon III, states
"THERE IS THIS POINT OF VIEW THAT A PRESIDENTIAL proclamation serves to publicize the state of mind of the chief executive. President Macapagal-Arroyo's Proclamation 1017 suggests a Marcosian state of mind. Lawyers have pointed out that the closing paragraph of the proclamation was lifted virtually verbatim from one of the most notorious proclamations in presidential and Philippine history: Proclamation 1081 of Sept. 21, 1972."
And the AKBAYAN party's statement reads,
"This event is alarming not only because it is our leaders who are involved. It is alarming because we now know exactly what GMA is capable of doing. She is, infact, capable of invoking dictatorial powers to stay in control. Martial law by any name – Proclamation 1017, State of Emergency, warrantless arrest, wholesale ban on public protest, take-over of public utilities, closure of media facilities -- IS martial law. It is very apparent that the state of emergency is nothing but a veiled promise to initiate a sweeping crackdown on forces opposing GMA."
" Democracy in this country has long been in the throes of death. Today, GMA has killed and buried it."
Powerful stuff, yet it has one flaw. They are wrong. Proclamation 1017 is no Martial Law.

Yes the last part is almost a verbatim copy of Proclamation 1081 (google cache). And yes, even if we concede that President Arroyo wants wants to have "martial law" powers, the fact is she does not.

What happened when President Marcos declared Martial Law? According to this site
"On September 21, 1972, Marcos issued Proclamation 1081, declaring martial law over the entire country. Under the president's command, the military arrested opposition figures, including Benigno Aquino, journalists, student and labor activists, and criminal elements. A total of about 30,000 detainees were kept at military compounds run by the army and the Philippine Constabulary. Weapons were confiscated, and "private armies" connected with prominent politicians and other figures were broken up. Newspapers were shut down, and the mass media were brought under tight control. With the stroke of a pen, Marcos closed the Philippine Congress and assumed its legislative responsibilities. During the 1972-81 martial law period, Marcos, invested with dictatorial powers, issued hundreds of presidential decrees, many of which were never published."
And according to
"Anybody could be picked up at anytime for any reason by the military or the police. You could wind up a detainee, or you could just vanish, a "salvage" victim. If you protested against the government, you were labeled a "subversive" or a "communist" or both and you were summarily arrested. People the government didn't like were tailed by security elements, their telephones tapped. A student who spoke up to Imee Marcos was murdered. No two words were more invoked and abused for the purposes of oppression than "national security." People were afraid to speak out. Marcos logic being what it was, the silence meant the people were happy."
The Arroyo administration is taking a lot of liberties in their pursuit of the coup plotters. And to my mind, they have certainly done illegal/unconstitutional acts, the raid on the Tribune is one, but Martial Law it does not make.

Comparing Proclamation 1017 with Proclamation 1081 belittles the horror and sacrifice undergone by Filipinos at that time.

In ending I would like to quote the Philippine Supreme court. I got this quote from the Alternative Law Group's petition to declare Proclamation 1017 unconstitutional. They quoted a passage from the Supreme Court's ruling dismissing a petition to declare Proclamation No. 427 and General Order No. 4, declaring a State of Rebellion unconstitutional. I think, as the Alternative Law Group does, that the quotation can be applied with Proclamation 1017 , only they will try to prove that the government has done what the Supreme court ruled it had not at that time. The ruling states
"The argument that the declaration of a state of rebellion amounts to a declaration of martial law and, therefore, is a circumvention of the report requirement, is a leap of logic. There is no indication that military tribunals have replaced civil courts in the "theater of war" or that military authorities have taken over the functions of civil government. There is no allegation of curtailment of civil or political rights. There is no indication that the President has exercised judicial and legislative powers. In short, there is no illustration that the President has attempted to exercise or has exercised martial law powers."


domingo said...

Gloria's PP 1017 reminds me of the fall guy named Secretary Norberto Gonzalez.

--An executive officer over whom the President "shall have control of" (or the Executive Power of "Control," as in EO 464)
--Ordered arrested by the Senate, the institution authorized merely to inquire "in aid of legislation" but acting as the constitutional "investigator," the Ombudsman, and, simultaneously, as the Court, exercising, in short, "concentrated power."
--Publicly maligned, insulted, humiliated
--Arrested "warrantless"
--Being under "Protective Custody" was not an option made available to him
--Detained indefinitely (for well over a month, or over 720 hours, in excess of the 36 hours legally allowed)
--Sneered at for seeking medical attention that incarceration without charges naturally magnify
--Accusation proved his guilt, and his denial or refusal doubled it
--Deprived of his liberty without benefit of due process of law
--Punished before he is guilty for fear that he should be guilty
--A Filipino citizen, entitled (presumably) to the protection of the Republic

Sadly, during all this time of horror, the avowed champions of freedom and democracy among many in the media and the opposition simply looked the other way—Gonzalez was their perceived "enemy"--condoning the humiliation, the deprivation the fall guy endured.

So, why make a fuss over the "warrantless," the "arbitrary," the "dictatorial" repercussions under Gloria's PP1017 now?

"He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself." --Thomas Paine

roy choco said...

Hi domingo,

I actually think the Senate was correct in that one. The Senate was doing their job, it was Secretary Gonzales that refused to cooperate.


domingo said...

Hi Roy

I'm quoting what the U.S. Supreme Court in WATKINS v. UNITED STATES, 354 U.S. 178 (1957) said:

"MR. CHIEF JUSTICE WARREN delivered the opinion of the Court.

"Since World War II, the Congress has practically abandoned its original practice of utilizing the coercive sanction of contempt proceedings at the bar of the House. The sanction there imposed is imprisonment by the House until the recalcitrant witness agrees to testify or disclose the matters sought, provided that the incarceration does [354 U.S. 178, 207] not extend beyond adjournment. The Congress has instead invoked the aid of the federal judicial system in protecting itself against contumacious conduct. It has become customary to refer these matters to the United States Attorneys for prosecution under criminal law.

"The appropriate statute is found in 2 U.S.C. 192. It provides:

"'Every person who having been summoned as a witness by the authority of either House of Congress to give testimony or to produce papers upon any matter under inquiry before either House, or any joint committee established by a joint or concurrent resolution of the two Houses of Congress, or any committee of either House of Congress, willfully makes default, or who, having appeared, refuses to answer any question pertinent to the question under inquiry, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $1,000 nor less than $100 and imprisonment in a common jail for not less than one month nor more than twelve months.' 45 [354 U.S. 178, 208]'

"In fulfillment of their obligation under this statute, the courts must accord to the defendants every right which is guaranteed to defendants in all other criminal cases."

Our own Congress should adopt this solution.


roy choco said...

Hi Domingo,

I think the Philippines will be better off if we follow the rule you stated. The need for Congress justify their proceedings will probably lessen the grandstanding that we see.

On the other hand, knowing our politicians, probably not.

But one can dream. :)