President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday slammed the constitutional provisions for declaring martial law, saying those who drafted the 1987 charter made proclaiming military rule problematic.
“The martial law provisions to defend the country sinira ng Cory (Aquino) constitution because of the hangover nila sa martial law,” Duterte said in his speech before the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry at Marco Polo Hotel.
Aquino succeeded Ferdinand Marcos, who placed the country under martial law for almost a decade.
Under the Constitution, the president can declare martial law in cases of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, for a period not exceeding 60 days.
The Constitution provides that 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.
“But after 60 days I have to go to Congress to ask for an extension if I cannot complete whatever is there to finish,” Duterte said.
“And there is also a provision, another paragraph . . . which says that any citizen of this republic can bring a case to the Supreme Court to question into the factual basis of martial law.”
Duterte said the problem lies when an impasse occurs between the Supreme Court, which could side with the public that questions the validity of martial law, and Congress, which may contradict the high court's position and agree to extending martial law.
“So here is Congress and here is the Supreme Court drawn into a stalemate just to have the safety nets of an abusive despot, a dictator. Saan ka pupunta ngayon dyan?” Duterte said. (So where will you go now?)
“So if the Supreme Court decides otherwise and here is Congress . . . what will I do now? There's no more control.
“So ako yung presidente will decide. So you give me now the karta blanka to really decide what I intend to do. Sabihin ko, 'Martial law forever. Tapos na.”
Duterte also hit at his critics who claim that he will declare martial law to extend his term as president.
“Those in Manila thinking about martial law, lengthening your stay . . . b***s***,” he said.
However, the president also reiterated that he can declare martial law if he wants to but emphasized that he will only do so to “preserve” the nation.
“I will declare martial law if I wanted to,” he said.
“I will declare martial law to preserve my nation. The right to preserve one's life and my country transcends everything else.”
Duterte has previously said that he wants the Constitution amended to make it easier for the president to declare martial law.