15 September 2017
Over the past few days, Pres. Duterte has been hinting that he may declare nationwide martial law if the protest actions planned by various groups on September 21 become violent.
Similar statements were echoed by Defense Secretary Lorenzana in a press conference today.
On one level, the pronouncements are intended to counter the growing opposition to Pres. Duterte’s increasingly tyrannical rule, cow citizens outraged by the rising death toll due to tokhang and martial law in Mindanao, and dissuade them from participating in rallies.
Beyond that, Pres. Duterte’s recent pronouncements are clearly laying the rhetorical groundwork for the declaration of nationwide martial law. He is insidiously conditioning the public to accept that “massive protests” and “fighting in the streets” are sufficient justification for declaring martial law, conveniently ignoring that the Constitution allows for martial law only in cases of invasion or rebellion.
Massive protests critical of government or government policies, such as the Million People March against Pork Barrel during the previous administration, are not new. Without exception, they have taken place peacefully. The planned protests next week are calling for an end to extrajudicial killings. By no stretch of the imagination can they be construed as acts of rebellion. Even in the highly unlikely event that there would be “fighting in the streets,” such would fall under what the Constitution calls “lawless violence,” not rebellion, and would not warrant martial law.
For the President to claim that such would justify martial law would lower the bar to ridiculous new lows and undermine the Constitutional safeguard against the abuse of the martial law power by a would-be dictator.
However, Pres. Duterte’s pronouncements pertaining to security matters tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies We warn against any. provocateurs, including state agents, who would initiate acts of violence that could be used as a pretext for declaring martial law.
Let us raise our voices against extrajudicial killings and rising tyranny on September 21. Let us do so with utmost vigilance. #