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Presidential prerogative

05:04 AM December 18, 2017

If only the critics of President Duterte would realize the nature and limitations of the chief executive’s constitutionally-conferred power of proclaiming and extending martial law in Mindanao, they would not be as unnecessarily resistant, aberrant, and “frightened” as they are at the moment.

First and foremost, now that Congress has concurred with the President’s sought-after martial law extension, one of the main apprehensions I observed is the most-feared “executive arbitrariness” that may accompany such extension.

While this may be a valid concern, it is however suggested for Filipinos to take the initiative of informing themselves of the dynamics of martial law proclamation under the 1987 Constitution before entertaining this unfounded apprehension and spreading malicious opinion about this subject matter.

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The Constitution made it quite clear that the President’s exercise of his discretion in proclaiming martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is limited. This is manifested by the fact that Congress actually has the power to revoke any martial law proclamation or extension.

Otherwise, President Duterte could have just proceeded with the proclamation of martial law, as well as its extension, and dispensed with the required imprimatur of Congress.

Accordingly, people should also realize that the legislature, just like the judiciary, is a separate, independent, and equally powerful branch of government accorded with powers that are designed to institute check and balance in our jurisdiction. Therefore, we may say that any martial law proclamation and/or extension is always safeguarded and accounted for.

Second, it must again be noted that “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it,” President Duterte is empowered under our Constitution to proclaim martial rule and seek for its extension.

Thus, as soon as presented with the exigencies present in Marawi City and the whole of Mindanao, President Duterte resorted pronto to exercise this constitutionally-sanctioned power of his as chief executive.

As someone who is mandated by his public office to secure the safety and protection of the Filipino people, without diminishing the civilian supremacy and liberties enshrined by the Constitution, I opine that he cannot be faulted for doing so.

As a matter of fact, President Duterte’s exercise of such prerogative has already been upheld by no other than the Supreme Court.

Finally: Does the current milieu sanction the granting of extension of President Duterte’s martial law?

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In my unsolicited yet ardent opinion, I am one with the legislature in favoring the grant of said extension. It is too apparent for anyone to neglect that factual bases exist in the form of terrorism and ongoing activities of communist takeover, which are even greater and graver than the (actual) rebellion required by the Constitution.

Suffice it to say that the status quo that necessitated the proclamation and extension of President Duterte’s martial law has been duly substantiated by no other than the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the martial law administrator himself, the secretary of defense.

In addition, the President’s vast network of intelligence, including third-party defense analysts, has revealed that other than the ongoing violent activities of the New People’s Army, an emerging number of Islamic State-inspired groups are in continuous effort to strike back with the same atrocious war as the Marawi siege — or even worse.

This is not merely an imminent danger as alleged by Mr. Duterte’s critics and it would be a shame on the part of the government to ignore such an alarming occurrence.

I believe that the framers of our Constitution, in providing for the President’s martial law powers, did not intend to limit its operation in a way our government would be too incapacitated to address exigencies, whose gravity and implication to our national security may be far worse than those they have contemplated at the time they drafted the organic law.

In view of the actual threats and challenges against our national security, may we allow the Duterte administration to use its constitutionally-sanctioned prerogatives within this premise.

LUCIANO TUMALIUAN,
lu_tumaliuan@outlook.com

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TAGS: 1987 Constitution, Inquirer letters, Luciano Tumaliuan, Marawi siege, Mindanao martial law, Rodrigo Duterte
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