Friday, February 24, 2006

State of Emergency

Woke up late at 0730h, looking for my Civil Law Review Outline. Class is at 1400h.

Then people started texting me that there were no classes today.


I switched on the news. Wow.

General Lim is being detained for asking permission to go join the rallies. I think the government is saying that there was a coup.

Granted that freedom of speech is restricted for men in the armed forces, it was still shocking to hear of people in the military who actually wanted his/ her Commander-in-Chief to step down. You have to ask why.

Then later, while I was having a very late breakfast, it was announced that the President had just issued Proclamation No. 1017, declaring a State of National Emergency. Immediate confusion. Martial Law?

Mike Defensor was on air to say that what this means is…

1.) Some people will be arrested without need for a warrant of arrest;
2.) Government can takeover certain businesses.


If you want a definition of irony, then I don’t know how it can not be any clearer. Mind that it’s the twentieth anniversary of People Power tomorrow.

At around noon, Sec. Bunye held a press conference and gave the basis for Proclamation 1017:

1.) Section 18, Article VII, Constitution and,
2.) Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution.

Section 18, Article VII states…
The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion….

Section 17, Article XII of the Constitution says…
In times of national emergency, when the public interest so requires, the State may, during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest.

The prudent man asks: Where is this lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion (Sec 18, Article VII, 1987 Constitution) that justified the President in calling out the Armed Forces? What makes it necessary?

What is this “national emergency” that we’re in? Does the public interest require the takeover of businesses?

Warrantless arrests? Section 2, Article III of the Bill of Rights says that people have the right “to be secure in their persons… against unreasonable searches and seizures.” We cannot be arrested without a warrant of arrest (unless the person is caught red handed, or in flagrante delicto).

And you know what? Even if the President actually declares martial law, which supposedly this State of National Emergency is not, “A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution….” (Section 18, Article VII) So, what is this thing about arresting people without warrants?

Government takeover of businesses? First, the government will have to prove that there is a national emergency. A national emergency, meaning a real one, not one that is only in its head. Second, the government will have to show that the national interest requires the takeover. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I look at this provision as one envisioning a circumstance where the public interest is being subverted because there is a monopoly in the operation of utilities. Third, this may actually be repugnant to the Constitution. “No person can be deprived of life, liberty and property without due process of law….” (Section 1, Article III, Bill of Rights). Wow. if I were a media company, I'd actually be in a quandary and debating whether I should continue not to be remiss in my duties as a journalist because, wow_ the government can actually take over my business...?

When Secretary Defensor spoke in emotionless tones of…

1.) Warrantless arrests, and
2.) Takeover of businesses….

What sprang to my mind is: Martial Law? Is it? It’s dangerous to use that term because under the Constitution, under the same provision that the government is quoting (Section 18, Article VII), Congress can revoke the imposition of Martial Law; and, the Supreme Court can review the sufficiency of Martial Law and strike it down as unconstitutional if need be.

Okay. As to what this State of Emergency really is, well, we’ll see.

(Happy EDSA day.) Have we forgotten what it's about? Nakalimutan mo na ba?


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