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EDITORIAL: People speak for, against martial law

THE MOMENT President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao hit the TV networks and news wires, expressions of fear, apprehension, disgust, support, agreement and relief quickly flooded the social media and the airlanes. Opposition lawmakers, on the other hand, cautioned that placing the entire Mindanao under Martial Law is worrisome, considering that Maute attacks are confined only in Lanao Sur province. Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano warned that President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration could extend much longer than intended, if the security situation in western and central Mindanao are used as reasons for martial law in the entire island. “Nonetheless, I hope the government would be able to contain the Maute and other threats the soonest possible time and prevent any spill over to other parts of the country,” said Alejano, who earlier filed an impeachment complaint against Duterte. House Deputy Minority Leader and Kabayan party-list Rep. Harry L. Roque, a known Duterte ally, meanwhile, said it is important that Congress discharge its constitutional function to determine the necessity of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. “This is a constitutional duty the legislature must not shirk from as part of the constitutional mechanisms for checks and balances,” he said. Under the Constitution, the President, as Commander-in-Chief, may declare any part of the Philippines under martial law in cases of rebellion or invasion. However, within 48 hours of such a declaration, he is required to submit a report in person or in writing to Congress. The President has until Thursday night to explain his decision to Congress most of whose members are his allies anyway. Reuters said critics and even economists chided Duterte for what they saw as an overreaction in declaring martial law on an island the size of South Korea after an incident in one city.. Now, let’s hear what the people say: Netizen Elvira Cedo hopes “this is just in Mindanao. If this extends to the entire country, God help us!” Naga City’s Czarina Imperial posted on her Facebook: “Everyone woke up jittery. Some friends didn’t sleep. The statements of the AFP and Spox Abella are conflicting. I think the declaration of ML is not necessary, seems like a knee jerk reaction, but it was his promise since Day One, so we shouldn’t be surprised. His minions are cheering though. WTH is wrong with these people? Do they understand what suspension of the writ of habeas corpus means? Well, some livers are gonna be served rare with sukang pinakurat soon. There goes my breakfast. ” On the other hand, these are the comments supporting Duterte’s move: “Personally I am against DU30s EJK but this time if he will declare an all-out war against Maute, Abu sayaff BIFF and other rogue Muslim armed groups, also including NPA, I am with him... Years and years of kidnapping, extortion, peaceful community disrupted... It’s about time!” “Human Rights, Media, So-called supporters of peace - This is the best time to attack militants via all your platforms. All you do is attack the president instead of supporting him, another rabid Duterte supporter wrote. Bernard Francis has this to say in his post: “Duterte may not be a suitable leader for a Scandinavian country but he is perfect for the Philippines. Without his good work, the country would be much worse than it is now...” “Can USA borrow duterte for a few months to clean up Chicago?” a blogger asked for help. And here’s one more: “Democracy will never work in the Philippines because for the past 30 years people tend to abuse the freedom they regained in 1986. Traditional politicians and oligarchs ruled our country. Martial law was the golden opportunity of Marcos to elevate the country into a first world status but he too became abusive and was surrounded by people who robbed the country. Pres DU30 I didn’t vote for you last election but make this country great and avoid the sins of Marcos.” As reported by the news media, Sen. Kiko Pangilinan of the opposition urged vigilance against possible abuse of power: “Our painful experience with the imposition martial law under the Marcos dictatorship should serve as a reminder that we must, as citizens, stay vigilant as the awesome powers of government concentrated on the executive can lead to rampant abuses and this we must guard against.” Duterte had vowed to be “harsh,” saying the martial rule he declared “will not be any different” from what the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos did. Sen.Sherwin Gatchalian, who joined the President’s trip to Russia, assured that Duterte “has the paramount interest of the Filipino people in mind” when he declared martial law. “I am confident that the President, as a dutiful son of Mindanao, will pour his heart and soul into efforts to restore peace and order there as quickly as possible. We must hold these despicable terrorists accountable for their crimes against humanity,” Gatchalian was quoted by a TV network as saying.

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