What’s the big deal with martial law?

/ 12:02 AM January 01, 2017

These days you hear more and more about interesting times ahead. PRody is just about ready to declare martial law, according to his chief legal counsel, who as usual is contradicted by a phalanx of Palace lieutenants. “Not true, no such plan by Bossing,” they chorus, each claiming to be closest to PRody and the one to whom the Big Guy would confide a serious plan.

Anyway, rumors on the impending declaration of martial law have gained traction and are now given credence by many including, unsurprisingly, my coffee shop crony Quintin L. He was a KBL mayor of a town in Ifugao who lost his job when the Marcos dictatorship was dismantled.


“I don’t want to sound like a fool crying ‘Wolf!’ but I think we are seeing a few red flags reminiscent of the signs that ushered in Marcos’ martial law,” I open our chitchat.

Quintin immediately mounts the soapbox: “Shouldn’t you Yellows stop mewling? What’s the big deal with martial law anyway? I’ll tell you what’s wrong with the planned imposition of martial law. The Big Guy’s men are doing a poor job of marketing it. Instead of going to town with a narrative that details its merits, his men are chorusing there’ll be no martial law. Very negative, as PR strat goes; it not only does not deodorize the concept; it also reinforces public perception that it’s a bad idea.


“If PRody imposes martial law he’ll be able to fix many, if not all, of the country’s ills. He’ll completely annihilate the drug menace, corruption and traffic. There’ll be no more Commission on Human Rights, no more noisy media, no more temperamental brats. They just interfere with governance; they’ll be silenced or abolished.

“Congress, which does nothing but undertake inquiries in aid of legislation, will be dissolved in aid of saving money and the people’s sanity from the inane grandstanding of honorable legislators. What laws or policies that need to be instituted will be supplied by presidential decrees and letters of instruction.

“With martial law we can establish a truly inclusive society that adheres to the ideal of the true, the good and the beautiful.”

Noticing my boredom, he asks, “Any comment?”

“I have,” I say, “couched in a martial law legend.”

There was this dude, a Palace crony, arrested for grabbing an oligarch’s giant power company. He faced a military tribunal and a speedy trial. So the President inquired some days later if the tribunal had reached a verdict. It had: “We find the accused not guilty—if he will return the power company he stole.”

“What kind of verdict is that? It’s not according to law,” the Boss bellowed. “Go back to court and deliberate again. Come up with a new verdict that’s according to law, bearing in mind that the law is what I say it is. And step on it, justice delayed is etc. etc.”


An hour later the tribunal chief reported back to the Boss, who harrumphed: “Have you come up with a new verdict that’s according to my PD No. 101, or the decree that says the law is what I say it is?”

“We have, your Excellency,” the tribunal chief said. “According to your law, we find the defendant not guilty—and he can keep the power company.”

I’m not sure if Quintin got the moral of the legend—why the people think martial law is a big deal. And ever will be even if morons don’t get it.

Mart del Rosario ([email protected]) is a retired advertising-PR consultant.

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TAGS: Ferdinand Marcos, martial law, Rodrigo Duterte
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