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Martial Law Argument

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Representative Teodoro L. Locsin, Jr Argument for Martial Law in Maguindanao 10 December 2009 Mr. Speaker, Mr. Senate President, This is how I sum up the government’s case. It is not without irony that I stand here defending martial law. But I do defend it. Nowhere and at no other time has it been better justified nor based more sufficiently on incontrovertible facts. Facts that call, indeed, cry out for the most extreme exercise of the police power, which is nothing less than martial law. Facts, not legal quibbles. Facts, not semantic distinctions of debatable validity. Look at the bodies, look at the arms stockpiles. Is rebellion as defined by the Penal Code a necessary condition for the validity of a proclamation of martial law? Then where is the definition of invasion in the Penal Code for the validity of martial law in that case? Since the repeal of the Anti-Subversion Act, 1 ideology is not a component of rebellion. I submit that rebellion here is not an exclusive reference to a particular provision of a particular law; but to a wide yet unmistakable, general but not indiscriminate allusion to a state of affairs that has deteriorated beyond lawless violence, beyond a state of emergency, to an obstinate refusal to discharge properly the functions of civil government in the area, by, of all people, the duly constituted but now obstructive authorities therein. It may be easier to repeat what Justice Potter Stewart said about pornography than to fix once and for all the meaning of the words rebellion and invasion, in a swiftly changing world, where both words can take on myriad realities. He said he couldn’t exactly define pornography but “I know it when I see it.” We are seeing Maguindanao and what we see, unless we are morally blind, cries out for martial law—at least for now. Here was an obstinate refusal to obey the law and the lawful commands of the national government, so as to constitute, on the part of the once duly constituted authorities, an illegal usurpation of the government offices they once legally held; exercising them now, not for the purposes of law, nor with the aim of doing justice, but to use the powers and functions of 2 that same government to frustrate the law, to perpetuate injustice, to protect the perpetrators of the most horrible crime in Philippine history, and to preserve the political influence that inspired the perpetrators with the idea that they could commit such a crime with total impunity. This state of affairs calls for nothing less than martial law; however you quibble with words. It calls for martial law because just calling out the armed forces was tried and proved wanting to quell lawless violence and restore civil government. The proclamation of martial law, which was addressed as much at the armed forces as at Maguindanao, send the signal to all and sundry: henceforth soldiers are no longer to obey nor to fear the politicians they were once made to serve and pander to, in derogation of their professional integrity, in the name of a misguided strategy of mutual deterrence in the ongoing secessionist conflict. No, now the soldiers are beholden only to the law and the lawful institutions like the Executive and Congress in Joint Session Assembled. Martial Law sends the needed signal to our soldiers and police that now they need no longer be respecters of special persons but only of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, of 3 the civil and criminal laws, of the State and not the temporary occupants of its public offices. Thus are soldiers and police emboldened to do their proper duty, to use their lawful force to the utmost lawful extent, as to achieve the specific aim of the proclamation; which, in this case, is to arrest with proper warrants anyone and everyone remotely connected to the massacre. There is no constitutional immunity from arrest, only from arrest without warrant and detention without charge. And then proceed, as I hope they are doing, to destroy the political infrastructure of one warlord family—though I hope not to favor the other one—and permanently dismantle their political influence in the province—though I hope not to establish the political influence of the other warlord clan. But that is only my hope. It is martial law that shocked and awed the elements of the Ampatuan army to surrender without a fight. This is the smallest atonement that the national government and the Ampatuans can make for the worst crime in Philippine history— the national government for arming them and the Ampatuans for using those arms so hideously. It is asked: If there is martial law to round up the Ampatuans, why not extend the martial law 4 to contain the MILF and even go after the drug trade? Willoughby suggests that a proclamation of martial law should have a specific aim and should not wander from that aim, that that aim being achieved, the mission should be declared accomplished, and martial law lifted in the area. Anyway, it can be reimposed again, and again, and again, and again—as it can be reviewed by the Congress in Joint Session as frequently. To this day, martial law in Maguindanao has not, despite the martial energy it has imparted to the military and police, occasioned a single abuse. True, soldiers kicked down the door to Governor Ampatuan’s hospital room. That is not an offense in law. Lese majeste is not a crime in a democracy. That is not even an offense against the door, because a door has no legal standing to complain of being kicked even before the Supreme Court. Remember, soldiers kicked the door and not the governor. And it was a hospital door. The hospital can seek damages, if it dares, after harboring a fugitive. Our soldiers have not violated a single fundamental right, not even of the perpetrators of this hideous crime. Far from it, our soldiers have secured the fundamental rights of the 5 ordinary people of Maguindanao from the depredations of the Ampatuan family and its goons, whether in their lingering terror of this family they admit it or not. This is known as the Stockholm Syndrome. So here, by whatever name you choose to call it, is a situation comprising an obstinate, querulous, snarling, vicious, refusal to obey the laws and the lawful orders of the government, on the part of a now renegade government and escalating from stubborn resistance to threatening posture, so as to constitute in the mind of the Executive a threat so certain that its actuality could only be established beyond cavil by the senseless sacrifice of soldiers to prove the threat real and not just looming or imminent. This state of affairs includes what the Penal Code calls sedition and a host of other felonies and offenses; but which, regardless of which definition you prefer, constitutes for any reasonable person a state of conflict. What Willoughby said, referring to martial law enforcers, ironically applies not to our soldiers but to their targets, the Ampatuans and their henchmen. “No man in this country is so high that he is above the law” as the Ampatuans believed. “No officer of the law may set that law at defiance with impunity.” 6 The Ampatuans were the first to impose martial law in Maguindanao without any basis but their undying thirst for power, which could only be slaked by the blood of anyone they disliked. To the martial law of the Ampatuans, the only adequate response was martial law by the government, which is the exercise of the inherent police power to secure the public safety through the armed forces. True, the courts were functioning when martial law was proclaimed, And true all government offices were open for business—but it was only for monkey business, for the benefit only of the Ampatuans, and against the lawful requirements of the State. The civil registrar refused to issue death certificates for the victims of the Maguindanao Massacre, I guess because he could not put mass suicide as the cause of death. It has been suggested in this House that, while the Maguindanao Massacre allegedly happened, it was not the perpetrators who did it. I guess it was suicide. In military doctrine, Mr. Senate President and former Defense Minister Enrile, capability amounts to intent. That this fully documented capability and inclination to mount armed 7 mayhem came from the legally constituted provincial government of Maguindanao only compounded the gravity of the situation and brought it within the ambit of the historical precedents that have so wisely informed the jurisprudence of martial law as I vividly recall from 1972. It is, as Secretary Puno aptly compared, as though regular battalions of the AFP had gone renegade. Was the danger so substantial as to warrant martial law? How many really are the loyalists of the Ampatuans? A thousand, two, three? I would answer, 50 is already a lot because from newspaper accounts over the years, encounters between AFP units and MILF forces of that size but superior weaponry usually result in—what?—25 percent casualties among our troops? Is it proposed that we should have sacrificed our soldiers, by leaving them as sitting ducks, until the Ampatuans drew first blood, just to banish baseless not to mention insincere fears that this martial law is legally flawed? I have heard it said that the biggest danger of this martial law is that, if it succeeds, will have a demonstration effect convincing the general public that perhaps the Army, like the French 8 with regard to sex, just do it better when it comes to securing the public safety. Well, what of it? Is it proposed that we let the public suffer, that we leave a community terrorized and paralyzed by monsters, just so we can stop the Army from proving that they can do some things better? Why this instinctive suspicion and contempt of our soldiers? These are not soldiers of Marcos’s martial law, some of whom, let us not forget were critical to the toppling of the dictatorship. Far from violating any fundamental rights, our soldiers are securing those rights for everyone in Maguindanao against the depredations of this warlord clan. Why this instinctive mistrust of the armed forces without whose sacrifices our country would be smaller by one third? And for their sacrifices, what is the soldier’s pay? Piddling. What are the soldiers’ rations? A can of sardines and a small reused plastic bag of old rice. And what is their recompense? Ingratitude and suspicion. I say leave this martial law to complete its mission. It shouldn’t take long. 9 10
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