Monday, May 21, 2018
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Sisyphus’ Lament

Can Frank Underwood extend martial law?

(Warning: Season 6 spoilers!)

This is President Francis J. Underwood. SWS reported your resounding 57-percent approval of my Season 6 trailer. After my war on terror’s paranoia, placing your banana republic under martial law again will make an excellent show.

Law frames the best political drama. The 25th Amendment became “The West Wing” Season 4. The 12th became “House of Cards” Season 5.


Season 6 satirizes your Constitution’s fantasy that law can protect you and your willful ignorance.

Your Supreme Court reviewed the sufficiency of martial law’s factual basis. But I did not stage an amateurish assassination. After ICO occupied Marawi City, a court would be hard pressed to find insufficient factual basis, a low bar. But you would rather debate Xian Gaza’s billboard than understand this, so you instantly decry law as corrupt and timid.

Justice Marvic Leonen dissented, saying there is no factual basis because the hundreds of ICO gunmen are terrorists, not rebels. The media falsely hyped him and his tweets as the “lone dissenter.”

Did you wonder if I wrote Leonen’s dissent myself? Its basis is more political than legal, seemingly impressive with its cultural analysis of extreme interpretations of Islam—yet too easy to refute legally when I place 12 out of 15 justices.

Randy David saw through me. His column focused on Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio’s dissent. Inquirer editorials likewise highlighted Carpio and moderate concurrences such as Justice Francis Jardeleza’s.

But the rest made it look like Carpio supports martial law! I need not push more reporters in front of trains.

The media ignored how Carpio questioned martial law outside Marawi, where there is no actual fighting, citing longstanding doctrine.

By the cliffhanger ending, I could extend martial law nationwide and indefinitely. After almost 60 days, none of your media, intellectuals and activists ask what it really means.


Martial law is defined as replacing civilian government that broke down with the military. The media shockingly ignored how Solicitor General Jose Calida admitted that it grants no new powers in an area where civilian government is intact.

Think. Does revoking martial law mean ceasing offensive military operations against ICO? But the president can order these any time, without martial law, all the way to President Joseph Estrada’s “all-out war.”

If it were to be extended to the Visayas, or when your president says it needs to run 15 more days, or when you say you need it to keep Mindanao safe, or when your police chief “Bato” dela Rosa says you need it “to make sure,” what specific powers do they mean that only martial law can authorize?

When Rep. Gary Alejano decries “authoritarian tendency” or Rep. Tom Villarin calls an extension “unrealistic” and “a precipitous cliff,” their vague, abstract protests beautifully fuel your self-inflicted myths.

Even the New York Times’ fake news claims martial law “gives the military widespread powers… including carrying out warrantless arrests.” I only need to add “martial law” captions to all the normal orders!

Thanks to the media’s misframing, your inutile debate revolves around the straw man of whether terrorists are rebels, not what martial law specifically lets your government do.

The media stokes the panic. Then I step in.

I could say martial law means pouring infrastructure into the country. A war on drugs. Letting Nadine Lustre live in. I can extend it indefinitely and claim it is whatever I want it to be.

You would all cheer. You enjoy watching me prove how the most idealistic and most vocal are the most superficial and easiest to manipulate. You want to see who will whisper, “Hail Hydra!”, who never knew I was pulling their strings, and who are simply bumbling optimists with “a legacy of nothing.”

As I said in Season 5: “People don’t know what’s best for them. I do…

“They even need help riding their wildest dreams, crafting their worst fears. Lucky for them, they have me.”

You laughed when I said “democracy is so overrated.” Now pledge: “One nation. Underwood.”

React:, Twitter @oscarfbtan,

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TAGS: Antonio Carpio, Francis Jardeleza, Frank Underwood, House of Cards, Inquirer Opinion, Marawi siege, Marvic Leonen, Mindanao martial law, Oscar Franklin Tan, Sisyphus’ Lament, Supreme Court, The West Wing
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