Padilla agrees with Enrile on easing martial law safeguard in Constitution

Xave Gregorio - Philstar.com
Padilla agrees with Enrile on easing martial law safeguard in Constitution
Sen. Robinhood Padilla presides over the continuation of the Committee on Constitutional Amendments and Revisions of Codes’ hearing on the proposed amendments or revisions to the economic provisions of the 1987 Constitution through constitutional convention.
Senate PRIB / Bibo Nueva España

MANILA, Philippines — Senate constitutional amendments panel chairperson Robinhood Padilla agreed Wednesday with chief presidential legal counsel Juan Ponce Enrile that a safeguard on the declaration of martial law in the 1987 Constitution should be removed.

During a hearing on proposals for Charter change, Enrile again pounced on the deletion of the phrase “imminent danger thereof” in the provision laying the grounds for the declaration of martial law, which he said put the government at a disadvantage.

“The reason why the president was given the power to declare martial law for an imminent condition of war, rebellion, invasion or insurrection so that we can immediately prepare so that no blood would be shed,” Enrile said partly in Filipino.

Enrile was chief implementer of Martial Law during the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos Sr., during which at least 11,000 cases of human rights violations were recognized by a government reparations board.

The “imminent danger” phrase was what Marcos Sr. exploited in placing the entire country under Martial Law, citing the growing communist insurgency and the ambush on Enrile.

But reports suggested that the New People’s Army then numbered around 1,000 and that the attempt on the life of Enrile, the defense chief at the time, was staged.

Framers of the 1987 Constitution limited the grounds for the declaration of martial law to only include “invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.”

But it appears that Padilla is in favor of bringing back the “imminent danger” phrase back into the provision on martial law.

“This is one of the things that must be amended in the Constitution especially in light of the very unstable situation in the whole world,” he said in Filipino.

But he clarified in a media interview later in the day that he is not going to include this in his current push for amendments to the economic provisions of the Constitution.

The 1987 Constitution also imposed other safeguards against abuses, including limiting the time of the effectivity of a martial law declaration to just 60 days unless extended by Congress and allowing the legislature and the Supreme Court to review the declaration.

The Marcos dictatorship saw thousands imprisoned, tortured, killed, and disappeared — a fact that was recognized by the Hawaii court and affirmed by the United States 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in 1995 and the Philippine Supreme Court in 2003.

Republic Act 10368 or the Human Rights Victims Reparation and Recognition Act also recognizes that there “were victims of summary execution, torture, enforced or involuntary disappearance and other gross human rights violations” under the Marcos regime.

That law formed a board that would evaluate claims of human rights violations during the Marcos regime. Although passed during the presidency of Benigno Aquino III, the work of the Human Rights Victims' Claims Board and the payment of reparations extended into the Duterte administration.

The Supreme Court has already ruled three times that the Marcos family committed fraud on a massive scale from 1965 and 1986. The High Court has also ordered them to repay the millions of dollars stolen from government coffers.





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