Hilbay: Draft charter allows president to declare martial law 'anytime'


Posted at Jul 11 2018 12:17 PM | Updated as of Jul 11 2018 12:42 PM

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MANILA - Under the draft federal charter, the sitting president can declare martial law anytime, a constitutional law professor said Wednesday.

The addition of lawless violence as among grounds to declare martial law is the "most dangerous part" of the draft charter, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said.

"If you give the president power to declare martial law because he believes there's lawless violence, you're giving him prior license to declare martial law anytime," he told ANC.

Hilbay said the 1987 constitution has safeguards on martial law to prevent abuses that plagued martial rule under former president Ferdinand Marcos.

The spokesman of the consultative committee that drafted the federal charter, Ding Generoso, said safeguards still exist.

The definition of "lawless violence," which includes specific magnitudes of terrorism, will be added to the draft, he said.

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President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of lawless violence throughout the country after a fatal bombing in his hometown Davao City in September 2016.

Martial law meanwhile was declared in Mindanao in May last year after Islamic State sympathizers laid siege on Marawi City. Congress extended this declaration until the end of 2018 to quell the threat of terrorism.