COVID-19 invasion? Duterte counsel's martial law view 'fanciful, hallucinatory,' says ex-VP Binay

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2020 11:51 AM

MANILA - Former vice president Jejomar Binay on Tuesday branded as "fanciful and hallucinatory" the remark of President Rodrigo Duterte's chief legal counsel that the coronavirus pandemic can be deemed as an "invasion" that could justify the declaration of martial law. 

While the Constitution requires a rebellion or an invasion as basis for military rule, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Monday the charter also stated that public safety could require an extraordinary measure. 

"The Constitution is very clear on the grounds for declaring martial law. There is no room for interpretation or - in the case of the Presidential Legal Counsel - fanciful and hallucinatory misinterpretation," Binay said in a statement.

"While we may be amused by his statement, the fact that it was even made public by a key member of the Cabinet should give us reason to pause and prepare for what comes next," added the former vice president, who is now convenor of the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties. 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Monday said martial law can only be declared due to armed actions by human beings, and not by viruses. 

The Philippines has responded to the coronavirus pandemic with lockdowns, enhanced testing, and physical distancing measures.

Duterte in April said he "might declare martial law" if communist rebels continue their fatal attacks on state forces helping in the distribution of relief aid during the health crisis. 

As of Monday, the Philippines confirmed 9,485 cases of the respiratory disease, with 623 deaths, and 1,315 recoveries.