OPINION: Just do it

Teddy Locsin, Jr.

Posted at Aug 15 2016 09:42 PM

THE Chief Justice, whose office is co-equal in constitutional dignity to that of President, advised judges under her court not to surrender unless served with warrants issued by judges. She is correct. Duterte answered with the non-sequitur, “Do you want me to declare martial law?” He was wrong.

To be sure, he can declare martial law.

Indeed he can declare anything like he’s been doing lately—including to the ambassador of the world’s only superpower. (Don’t do that. Degrade the ambassador and you degrade the country in whose he stands before the host country and the world. Degrade him and you may as well assassinate him for by putting him down in one sense, you are inviting others to put him down in a sense for which the retaliation must be massive.)

Going back to our subject: but without the approval of Congress, he cannot impose it.

Sure he may get Congressional approval easily from a Senate with a boxer and a comedian and the Batasan which is shaped like an ATM-machine and which possesses a minority that will only echo the majority whence it comes—inappropriately: a minority that’s faux which is French for fake.

But you cannot impose martial law to suppress a lawless violence that is not evident; if you discount the lawlessness of the government itself. All the violence is coming from the government side.

Nor can you declare martial law to suppress the courts when martial law was intended to protect and uphold them.

The problem with the drug problem is it spreads without lawlessness: in dark dirty alleys for poor addicts and in exclusive clubs for rich ones.

So no, Duterte cannot declare martial law.

I mean he can but it would not be martial law but a Palace takeover of the democratic state.     

I have no problem with martial law.

I do have a problem with the ignorant reason advanced for it: getting the Supreme Court out of the way. Are you kidding? The executive exists in great part, and is armed with martial law power mostly, for the reason of protecting the justice system so that the President can discharge his oath to do justice to every man.

Frankly, all this talk of martial law is boring.

“Just do it,” is what I say, to borrow the words of Nancy Reagan borrowed by her from the Nike ad.

Then we will see what happens.

Martial law is not odious in itself.

If it were this Constitution would not contain it.

This Constitution provides for martial law; albeit with only a safeguard against abuse which the president can buy Congress to ignore.

So just do it. If anyone might do martial law right, it is Duterte.

He is old.

And he won’t last long.

If Duterte did martial law right—e.g., without cronies to steal for him—it might finally generate faith in martial law as a weapon to defend democracy but not kill it like Marcos did.

Democracy needs martial law to protect it. Yes, not just from foreign invasion and civil discord but from something the American Founding Fathers never experienced: a drug trade so vastly and deeply embedded, so well-funded, so brutal, and so numerously staffed, that it can do more than just attack democracy. It can buy democracy. And thereby kill our country and our race.

It is just that we have only had a bad taste of martial law; mostly stealing for personal gain—what else?—and killing like the assassination of Ninoy.