For Panelo, martial law sans abuses ‘necessary’ to save nation

September 22, 2019
Salvador Panelo

MARTIAL law is necessary in order to save the country’s democracy, but it should not be marked with abuses and violations of the rights of the people, Malacañang said yesterday.

The Palace made the remark as the country commemorated on Saturday the 47th anniversary of the proclamation of martial law by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1972.

In a statement, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that while the Marcos martial law “instilled discipline among the citizenry at its inception, as well as reaping success in dismantling the then spreading communist insurgency in the country,” it caused a deep wound in the generation that followed it.

Even then, the framers of the 1987 Constitution saw it necessary to retain the provision for the declaration of martial law in order to “save” the country from the enemies of the state and vested it in the President, but with more safeguards for abuse, he added.

“Those who perceive that a declaration of martial law is anti-democratic is oblivious of the fact that its application is precisely the very tool to save the exercise of democracy. It is only when it is clothed with abuse by its enforcers that it becomes obnoxious,” Panelo said.

“Necessarily, its proclamation arises only upon constitutional dictates. Any violation thereof subjects the transgressors to the wrath and vengeance of the Constitution,” he added.

Panelo encouraged the public to learn from the past and use its lesson as a guide for the present.

“Relative to our quest to strengthen the Republic and its institutions, the Palace urges everyone to look at the past to guide us on what to do with the present, that it may serve us better in the future,” he said.

In a statement on the 47th anniversary of Martial Law, Vice President Leni Robredo on Saturday asked Filipinos to pursue truth and justice and ensure that no dictator will be in power.

On September 21, 1972, Marcos signed Proclamation 1081 placing the entire Philippines under martial law, citing rising insurgency and criminality in the country.

On the day Martial Law was declared, public utilities were shut down, media outlets were ordered closed, and about 8,000 personalities were arrested.

Proclamation 1081 was lifted in January 1981, but the rule of Marcos essentially ended in 1986 when he was overthrown during the first EDSA People Power Revolution.

In May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte also placed Mindanao under martial law after ISIS-inspired Maute group attacked and destroyed Marawi City.

Two years later, martial rule in the island has not been lifted, after it was extended by Congress three times until December 31, 2019.