By MB Online
If President Rodrigo Duterte would have his way, he would amend the 1987 Constitution to exclude Congress and the Supreme Court from the process of declaring Martial Law, leaving the decision solely to the president, triggering opposition from some of his allies at the House of Representatives.
The president said the two branches of government would hinder a prompt response in urgent situations such as insurrection, lawless violence, invasion and other security threats requiring swift action.
“Kung mag-declare ako ng martial law at may invasion ngayon o giyera, I cannot proceed on and on, lalo na kung may gulo. Pupunta pa ako sa Congress, pupunta pa ako doon sa Supreme Court,” he said on Thursday, December 22 in his speech in Angeles City.
“Paano kung hindi magkasundo ang SC at Congress? Sino susundin ng pulis?”
The 1987 Constitution states that Congress has the power the revoke the proclamation of the president by majority vote, while the Supreme Court may review and “promulgate its decision within 30 days of filing.”
In addition, the president said that the three-year term for local officials was a “reckless reaction” to the Marcos regime, stating that it is too short and should be amended as well. He said this with former president and Pampanga Rep. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda also in attendance.
The present constitution mandates local officials to be elected under three-year terms for three consecutive terms.
“Iyan masama ang batas na iyan talaga. Dapat palitan talaga iyan. Maski sinong gobernador o mayor ang tanungin mo. Isang bayad ng utang tapos to get in the projects, the money. That was an almost a reckless reaction doon kay Marcos noong panahon na siya ang nag-president. Naano tayo sa galit natin,” he said referring to the constitutional provisions.
The president has brought up the idea of Martial Law in October, saying he was ‘tempted’ to declare it because of the prevalence of illegal drugs in the country.
Early this month, he has designated a panel to review the 1987 constitution.
Key members of the House administration and opposition blocs rejected the president’s call for authority to freely declare martial law sans Congress consent and Supreme Court’s interference.
Siquijor Rep. Ramon Rocamora believes that Duterte’s statement will soon get “withdrawn or watered down.”
Deputy speaker Fredenil Castro (NUP, Capiz) and assistant minority leader Eugene Michael De Vera (ABS party-list) said the 1987 charter already addresses Duterte’s desire to allow immediate martial law declaration.
On the other hand, senior deputy minority leader Lito Atienza (Buhay party-list) and Makati City Rep. Luis Angel Campos warned that deleting constitutional safeguards to martial law is dangerous to democracy.
Party-list Reps. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) and Tom Villarin (Akbayan) chided Duterte for attempting to use Congress to undermine checks and balance in governance.
Nevertheless, other Duterte allies are inclined to back the president in his proposal to make less difficult the declaration of martial law.
Deputy speaker Raneo Abu (PDP-Laban, Batangas) believes Duterte issued the statement “with an emergency situation, like war, in mind.”
Rep. Rodel Batocabe (Ako Bicol party-list) decried the martial provisions in the Constitution as “absurd restrictions imposed” by the framers of the constitution while Rep. Eric Pineda (1Pacman party-list) called for further clarification of the president’s pronouncement.
On the other hand, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Maximo Rodriguez is confident both Congress and the High Tribunal will oppose the proposal.
CIBAC party-list Rep. Sherwin Tugna, chairman of the House committee on suffrage and electoral reforms, assured that Duterte’s proposal will be taken up when Congress launches debates on constitutional revision next year.
“Details will be discussed. It is hard to concentrate power in the hands of one person. There should always be check and balance,” said Tugna. (With reports by Ben Rosario and Ellson Quismorio)