quote of the day: "Which part of ‘Never again’ did you fail to understand?"

 image by shesnotmypresident.deviantart.com

“THEREFORE, I, GLORIA MACAPAGAL-ARROYO, PRESIDENT OF RP, DO HEREBY PROCLAIM AS FOLLOWS:

SEC. 1 – THERE IS HEREBY DECLARED A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW IN THE PROVINCE OF MAGUINDANAO EXCEPT FOR THE IDENTIFIED AREAS OF THE MORO ISLAMIC LIBERATION FRONT AS REFERRED TO IN THE IMPLEMENTING OPERATIONAL GUIDELINES OF THE GRP-MILF AGREEMENT ON THE GENERAL CESSATION OF HOSTLITIES.

SEC. 2 – THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS WILL LIKEWISE BE SUSPENDED IN THE SAID AREAS FOR THE DURATION OF THE STATE OF MARTIAL LAW.

DONE IN THE CITY OF MANILA, THIS 4TH DAY OF DECEMEBER, 2009. SIGNED, GLORIA M. ARROYO.”

–  The decretal portion of Proclamation 1959, declaring martial law in Maguindanao, as read by the Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita (full text here)

“When we said ‘Never again’ we meant it. Which part of ‘Never again’ did you fail to understand?”
– University of the Philippines Law Professor Theodore Te

—-
Martial law is not an answer to police incompetence in the heinous Ampatuan massacre.
Ermita, reading from the proclamation, attests that “Condition of peace and order in Maguindanao has deteriorated to the extent that government mechanisms are not functioning thus endangering public safety . . .”

Arroyo and her military operators simply cannot justify this move by invoking ‘public safety’ and justice for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre. The government has so far portrayed nothing but incompetence and lack of political will in ensuring expediency in this case. It waited for three whole days before coming to a decision, a poor first act at that, of issuing a memo DEPLORING the perpetrators to surrender themselves instead of arresting the most likely suspects. View timeline of the Ampatuan massacre here.

Anyone can surmise that Arroyo’s initial hesitancy to arrest the Ampatuans, the suspected masterminds in the brutal killings and mutilation of 58 people, including journalists, lawyers and civilians, despite the surfacing of witnesses and evidence corroborating their involvement in the murders since day one of the unearthing of the bodies, springs from a twisted sense of utang na loob and, well, Philippine politics at its worst — the Ampatuans are said to be the prime operators in Arroyo’s Team Unity’s 12-0 win in Maguindanao in the 2007 congressional and senatorial elections, among other “favors.”  

This practice of “I rub your back, you rub mine” has certainly gone out of hand. This same practice of impunity has emboldened the Ampatuans to build their very own fortress in Maguindanao with no less than the local military and police at their disposal.

While the government has already suspended the entire local military and police force and arrested the their chiefs implicated in the murders, it still carries the sole burden of implementing due process of law in arresting the suspects. In declaring martial law in Maguindanao, the government is now saying that authorities, no less than Interior and Local Government chief Ronaldo Puno who was initially deployed to act as officer-in-charge in Maguindanao, failed to do their jobs. Plain and simple.

Still, any truly meaningful and sincere resolution to the murders should be done with constraint and sobriety and declaring martial law is, therefore, arguably a major blunder — unless it again aims to serve an entirely different purpose other than what Malacanang has declared thus far.

The only way that Arroyo can thwart any suspicions on her motive for declaring martial law is to restore all civilian government bodies in the province.

—-

Arroyo is mandated by the Constitution to explain to Congress within 48 hours since her declaration her reasons for imposing martial law in Maguindanao. Congress, on the other hand, has the sole power to revoke it and is obliged to convene 24 hours after the declaration (Update from Cong. Mong Palatino: The House Sec-Gen has already called for an URGENT all-member caucus on Monday, Dec.7, 4pm, to discuss the declaration on martial law in Maguindanao). Any citizen can question the legality of Arroyo’s declaration before the Supreme Court.

The dilemma: While Senate is mainly dominated by the opposition, the almost 300-member-Lower House is a known Arroyo bailiwick, and 95% of the SC justices are Arroyo-appointed.

(Further update: BAYAN has called for an emergency protest at 2pm today at the Boy Scout Monument in Timog, QC to call on Congress to revoke martial law in Maguindanao.)

—-
Martial law will not resolve warlordism.
Again, Malacanang seems to be working on the assumption that the people will just as easily accept martial law by portraying that Maguindanao is “out of control.” It concludes that the only way to resolve this serious case of warlordism is through pure and unadulterated military control.
How twisted can this be when no other should be held accountable for allowing the arming of the Ampatuans other than the Arroyo regime, the PNP and the AFP? How can we trust these entities to implement martial law given their dismal human rights records?
In fact, the recently unearthed high-powered weapons and ammo from the Ampatuan’s backyard bore the markings of “Department of National Defense Arsenal” and “PNP Camp Crame,” prompting former military man Sen. Rodolfo Biazon to assert, “Only the military can have this weapon..Nobody can possess them, except for the military and the police, once in a while.”
To allow enormous martial law powers to those compliant to and responsible for this kind of system in the first place can only serve to aggravate the effects of warlordism in the province and elsewhere.
—-

Martial declared five months before the 2010 national elections is a very dangerous precedent.
There goes the 2010 elections?
If martial law in Maguindanao is not revoked soon, it can result in failure of elections in the province, the disenfranchisement of millions of voters, or worse, may be used as a tool for massive electoral fraud. It has, after all, happened before, sans martial law.

Who now does not harbor the fear that this same move may be done by the Arroyo regime elsewhere in the country or on a nationwide scope as election time nears?

—-
Martial law, for whatever purpose, will only serve to benefit Arroyo’s cling to power post-presidency.
The game plan, it seems, is almost complete.
Arroyo has already announced her congressional bid.
Followed by her announcement that charter change is still in business.
Martial law may just be the clincher. A most bothersome fact is that recently-appointed Department of National Defense Chief Norberto Gonzales is now at the helm.
Arroyo is undoubtedly threshing out all possible scenarios to cling to power because there simply is no graceful exit at hand for her. ###

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