Just my opinion
by Raïssa Robles
Forget Martial Law.
But President Benigno Aquino may be able to declare a “state of emergency”. I will explain that at the end of this piece.
UPDATE: 12:36 pm of Monday, Noevember 11, 2013
Aquino will not declare Martial Law in typhoon-ravaged Tacloban City.
Not unless Tacloban residents stage a rebellion, such as declare themselves an independent state or take up arms against the government.
The present Philippine Constitution clearly states that Martial Law can only be declared by the sitting President under two circumstances –
ONE – in case of invasion
TWO – when there is a rebellion
But there is another condition super-imposed: only when “the public safety requires it” during an ongoing invasion or rebellion.
All these were safeguards imposed after the Marcos dictatorship’s abuse of martial law powers. And by the way, it would be highly ironic if Aquino declared Martial Law on an island that gave birth to some of the power players of the 1972 Martial Law – Imelda Romualdez-Marcos and her brother Benjamin “Kokoy” Romualdez. And whose clan continues to rule the province.
It was for this reason that in December 2009, following the Maguindanao massacre, then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s government had to go through the rigmarole of claiming the Ampatuans had staged a rebellion. This was in order to justify Arroyo’s declaration of Martial Law there.
You can read about it more by going to this link. The Ampatuan family’s rebellion case has since been tossed out by the court.
Can Aquino declare a “state of emergency” then?
That is a gray area in the Constitution which simply states –
“The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.”
But notice the phrase “lawless violence”. The Constitution does not define what kind of violence there has to be in order to justify the calling of the armed forces. It is left to presidential discretion.