When President Duterte imposed martial law on the entire Mindanao, paranoid netizens stormed social media. Many of them are afraid, and many more are apparently ignorant.
Where is this collective fear coming from? History has made us scared of martial law. And this fear has become the currency of our ignorance about some constitutional reforms.
However, we cannot blame the sentiments of our people. Horrifying memories from the Marcos martial law have left a deep scar on many of us.
We are grateful to be living under a Constitution that assures us that the horrors of the past will not haunt us again. The 1987 Constitution is obviously a correction of the evils of the Marcos regime. It has set limitations to the military power of the president. The president’s power to declare martial law is now subject to review by Congress and the Supreme Court. In short, martial law must be declared out of necessity and not for someone’s political convenience.
Under our Fifth Republic, this is the second time martial law has been declared, but this is the first to cover just the entire Mindanao (including Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi), but not the whole Philippines. During the Arroyo presidency, martial law was briefly imposed in Maguindanao.
As a Mindanaoan myself who lives near Marawi City, I welcome this recent martial law declaration if this is the only way to subdue these terrorists and preserve public safety and order in the region.
I wish that this administration is doing it in the best interest of our people, albeit I cannot afford to be too optimistic—because power corrupts.
Therefore, this call to everyone, issued in the context of a caveat: Even as we trust that the Duterte administration is acting in good faith, let’s continue to be vigilant.
I understand the paranoia, but let’s shed this mental baggage. Keeping it does not help at all. Ignorance can kill us faster than bullets. Let’s be reminded that ours is still a government of law and not of men. And that civilian authority is supreme over the military—at all times.
Our continued fear is our enemies’ greatest victory. Let us fight them with unceasing prayers and utmost vigilance.
FARELL MURALLON-RELACION, assistant professor of political science, Misamis University, Ozamiz City
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