MANILA, Philippines – Seven in 10 Filipinos are against the reimposition of martial law to solve the various problems faced by the country, the latest Pulse Asia survey shows.
Taken from Dec. 6 to 11 last year, the survey found 74 percent of 1,200 adult respondents disagreed with the reimposition of martial law at this time.
This was the prevailing opinion in all geographic areas (65 to 81 percent), socioeconomic classes (67 to 76 percent) and age groups (70 to 77 percent) as well as among both men and women (73 and 74 percent, respectively).
Disagreement was more pronounced among those in Metro Manila at 81 percent, followed by President Duterte’s bailiwick Mindanao, 75 percent; balance Luzon, 74 percent, and the Visayas, 65 percent.
Only 12 percent of respondents agree with the statement, “Candidly speaking, it may be necessary now to have martial law to solve the many crises of the nation.”
The remaining 14 percent expressed indecision on the matter.
Pulse Asia said opposition to the reimposition of martial law in the country became more pronounced between September and December 2016 not only at the national level (+10 percentage points) but also in Metro Manila (+13 percentage points) and in Class D (+12 percentage points).
“Likewise, this observation holds true in the case of both male and female Filipinos (+9 and +10 percentage points, respectively),” it said.
Pulse Asia also noted that indecision on the matter of having martial rule declined eight points in Class D during the same period, from 20 percent in September to 12 percent in December.
“The other movements occurring at this time in the other subgroupings are marginal in nature,” the pollsters said.
Pulse Asia’s nationwide survey has an error margin of plus or minus three percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level.
Even members of the military also expressed disagreement with the reimposition of martial law in a random interview by The STAR.
“We are already on the path towards peace, why declare martial law?” a soldier said.
“If you declare martial law, it will be another round of dictatorship which will bring back the old days of oppression under the hands of the state security forces,” said a retired military officer who was among the enforcers of military rule under the Marcos dictatorship.
Recounting his days as enforcer of martial law, the retired officer admitted that he and his peers in the uniformed services developed the habits of shortcutting the law in the name of enforcing order.
“After martial law was lifted, the habits continue to hound our ranks as we are already used to shortcutting the laws. It took more than 10 years before the slow transformation started to take place among us martial law enforcers,” he said.
“The monster in the military will return and this is the very hard and difficult fact that the public must be ready to endure if the country is once again placed under martial law,” the retired military officer warned.
The late dictator Ferdinand Marcos placed the Philippines under martial law on Sept. 21, 1972, which many historians said was the darkest period in the country’s history.
Last month, Duterte said he had no plans to declare martial law, saying it didn’t improve the plight of the people in the past.
But Duterte once proposed that Congress and the Supreme Court should be removed from the process of declaring martial law.
In November last year, Duterte said he may be forced to suspend the writ of habeas corpus if lawlessness due to “rebellion being waged” in Mindanao does not stop.
Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV noted that Duterte has been changing his statements on his desire to impose martial law.
Aquino also said Malacañang should not ignore the results of the survey, which also implies that Filipinos do not favor a violent approach to solving problems.
“It’s (survey results) a complete rejection of this type of leadership, that type of governance that leans too much towards violence or to martial rule,” he added.
For Sen. Risa Hontiveros, the Marcoses should also read the poll as a clear message “to stop their mad attempt to paint a rosy picture of martial law.”
“The poll should serve as a stern warning to all those who are planning to subject the country to a new form of authoritarian rule. The survey should end all plans and discussions to impose a new form of dictatorship in the country. The government should be guided by this latest survey to uphold the rule of law and safeguard democracy,” she added.
Opposition Rep. Edcel Lagman of Albay also urged Duterte yesterday to junk the idea of imposing martial law to arrest alleged lawlessness and rebellion in Mindanao.
“The 74 percent of Filipinos who disagree with the implementation of martial law in solving pressing national problems is a categorical signal to the Duterte administration not to consider resort to a martial law regime,” Lagman said. – Helen Flores, Jess Diaz, Paolo Romero, Jaime Laude, Christina Mendez