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MARTIAL LAW JITTERS | Lawmakers anxious over events, writ suspension talk

Presidential legal counsel Sal Panelo: allusion to habeas corpus writ suspension fuels jitters over events being used as predicate for martial law. INTERAKSYON FILE

InterAksyon.com
The online news portal of TV5

 MANILA – The rebel attacks in pocket areas in Mindanao, the anti-Marcos protests, the discovery of an improvised explosive device on Roxas Boulevard in Manila, the country purportedly turning into a narco-state – are these some of the scenarios that could justify President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus?

Lawmakers are now raising this question as a series of events quickly followed the President’s chief legal counsel, Salvador Panelo, constantly mouthing the possibility of the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus to help curb criminality.

Several lawmakers have exhorted the public to be vigilant and resist moves by the administration that would curtail the people’s rights.

“There’s no way we can know whether these are real or part of a scenario setting, but there are precedents in the past because before Marcos declared martial law, there were bombings, the supposed ambush of Enrile (then defense minister) and other propaganda that would justify the declaration of martial law,” Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said Tuesday.

Magdalo partylist Rep. Gary Alejano said the administration appeared to be testing the waters.

“Even the Marcos burial (at the Libingan ng mga Bayani) is a test because when you say Marcos, it is equivalent to martial law, so it is a test whether the present generation is willing to accept martial law,” he said.

Alejano said the purported worsening drug problem in the country could also be used to justify the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.  But he questioned the administration’s “bloated figures” and the process of identifying the drug suspects.

“There’s no process of validation, they’re painting the country [on the]  brink of collapse that needed to be saved,” he said.

“We don’t want the democratic system damaged in finding a solution to the war on drugs. . . We might see ourselves in a more problematic situation in the future if we continue to short-cut the system,” Alejano added.

Anakpawis partylist Representative Ariel Casilao sees a “déjà vu” of the same circumstances that could be a prelude to martial law.

But he said the reaction of the public would matter a lot in thwarting the President’s attempts to resort to such.

ACT Teachers partylist Rep. Antonio Tinio said the President should rein in his officials, who always issue statements about martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

“We are alarmed with the repeated statements.  The President should tell his officials to stop because there’s no basis for martial law,” Tinio said.

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