Martial Law Then and Now: The Difference

Martial Law was recently declared by President Rodrigo Duterte over Mindanao in the wake of the takeover of Marawi City by the Maute terrorist group. The declaration aims restore order in in the said city.

The declaration elicited “violent” reactions from some sectors who feared the return to the “dark days” of Martial Law on the 1970s when it was declared by President Ferdinand Marcos. They fear the suspension of political rights and rampant human rights violations.

Despite these protests, the government and the military assured the public this is not the same Martial Law that occurred before. Their justification is defined in the 1987 Constitution under Article VII, Section 18:

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. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”

However, the Constitution has put up safety features to ensure there will be no repeat of the past. The Chief Executive is given a time frame of only 60 days for Martial Law to stay in effect. This will also be reviewed by the two other branches of government – the Legislative and Judicial to ensure that the declaration is justifiable and legitimate.

Furthermore, the Constitution also states: “A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”

This means there is no military rule. Civilian courts will continue to function and due process will still be observed. Regarding the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, this is only limited to those charged with the above offenses (lawless violence, invasion or rebellion). In addition, they should be charged within three days upon detention; otherwise, they have to be released.

This means they cannot be arrested without due process. They have to know the charges leveled against them and they need to be brought before the court to be formally charged. Compared to the Marcos-era Martial Law, suspects can be arrested any time and detained indefinitely without knowing the charges against them and never brought to court.

AFP mindanao
Today’s Armed Forces of the Philippines is a far cry from that of the Marcos era. They are adequately educated on human rights and are expected to respect it. Source: CDO Encyclopedia.

Despite all the clamor of the anti-Martial Law activists, it has been received quite well by many in Mindanao. The military is no longer feared but regarded as a friend and they have been receiving a lot of support of all kinds for the sacrifice they have made in freeing Marawi from the terrorists.

It is understandable there were those who have suffered the trauma of the past. But this does not mean we should continue to live there because a lot has changed over the past 40 years and there are safeguards to ensure the oppression under Marcos’ Martial Law will never again happen.

Featured Image Source: The Philippjne Star

Aaron Ronquillo

Quizzer, Practical Shooter, Martial Artist, Movie Buff, Avid Reader, Amateur Foodie and Photographer, Cat Lover; Someone with a wanderlust; got a keen eye for detail, trivia; enthusiastic but cautious; patient, calculating