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Saturday, December 5, 2009

President Arroyo declared Martial Law in Maguindanao

It is now official, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared Martial Law in the province of Maguindanao this Saturday, December 5, 2009.

Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced Proclamation No. 1959 in a press conference, proclaiming a state of martial law in Maguindanao. Thus, also suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the said province, except for certain areas identified as bailiwicks of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).

Ermita said President Arroyo decided to declare martial law because "heavily armed groups in the province of Maguidanao have established positions to resist govenrment troops, thereby depriving the executive of its powers and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and to maintain public order and safety."

The declaration of Martial Law will lead to the warrant less arrests of other members of the Ampatuan family who have been linked to the so-called Maguindanao massacre occurred November 23, 2009.

Apparently, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Chief of Staff Gen. Victor Ibrado announced that joint police and military teams have taken into custody Maguindanao Gov. Andal Ampatuan Sr. and his son, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Zaldy Ampatuan.

Ibrado said there are at least 4,000 military troops already deployed in the province to enforce martial law.

Below is what the 1987 Constitution says about the declaration of Martial law.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the declaration of martial law will suspend the writ of habeas corpus, which means some citizens may be arrested without warrants.

Section 18 of the Charter states: "The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law."

However, the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus only applies to persons charged for "rebellion" or offenses connected with an invasion.

"The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion," the Constitution also says.

It also adds: "During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released."

Meanwhile, both the Senate and Congress shall wait for the report of the President which is required by the Constitution.

However, House Speaker Prospero Nograles earlier said that Congress may find it hard to convene and assess the declaration of martial law.

According to Nograles,"Martial law can be impractical at this time as it requires the approval of Congress, which will most likely have difficulty mustering a quorum due to the holidays and the election season. Even if we have a quorum, I don't think our senators and congressmen will favor this because it will certainly cause public uproar which can endanger their reelection bid."

"A limited state of emergency in Maguindanao and nearby provinces is sufficient to address the problem related to the Maguindanao massacre," he added.

News Source: ABS-CBN News.com

Related posts:
Maguindanao Massacre death toll reached 57: The Worst Philippine Election related Violence
Justice for Maguindanao Massacre Victims: A Call to all Presidential Candidates

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