Martial Law in Mindanao : What Happens Now?

Elpidio V. Peria
24 May 2017

from :

The President has just declared Martial Law, the ANC cable news has been reporting apparently repeatedly which I only paid attention to only now, at around 10am, and though a quick search of the government’s Official Gazette website has not yet yielded any official proclamation issued for this declaration.

First things first, people should not panic. From the 1987 Constitution, readers of this blog should be mindful of para. 4, section 18, ArticleVII which explicitly spells out that a state of martial law :

a) Does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, and the important thing to note here is that Filipino’s Bill of Rights there are NOT set aside, so there should be no warrantless arrests and unreasonable searches and seizures made as a result of this proclamation as the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects are still in effect;

b) nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, this means those who have cases in court should continue to go to the courts as scheduled as they continue to exist and the Congress and all the other legislative bodies in the local government units are still functioning and should continue in their regular conduct of business;

c) nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, this means that civilians like all of us in Mindanao would continue to go about our own affairs today and till the day this declaration is lifted as no military court or government agency will have the right to make decisions on what civilians can and cannot do;

d) nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ, which refers to the writ of habeas corpus, which is the remedy for those who may be illegally picked up when military checkpoints may be set-up, so those who may be picked up as a result of this martial law declaration can still avail of this legal remedy but as per recent experience on this, those picked up should NEVER sign any waiver that may be put in front of them in case they may be arrested without warrant. Those picked up should NEVER sign and ask for their own lawyer and if a PAO lawyer may be provided to them, this lawyer should explain to them the consequences if they sign such waiver.

Under the same provision of the Constitution, what happens now are the following :

a) within 48 hours from his proclamation, though there may be debate when this countdown will start as it is not sure when the official proclamation was made, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to Congress;

b) the Congress, voting jointly or by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President.

c) Upon the President’s initiative, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation for a period to be determined by Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.

Any citizen may question the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law direct to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court must promulgate its decision within 30 days from filing.

For those who have experienced Martial Law, President Duterte’s assurance in the ANC news clip that it will be just like the Martial Law during the 70s is precisely the kind of statement that only fuels greater anxieties among the people.

People should also watch out for OA (over-acting, thus excessive or unnecessary) actions of the police and military in setting up checkpoints in key thoroughfares in Mindanao and perhaps they may be emboldened in being more intrusive and arrogant during these usual check-ups, so these should be resisted and they can only ask that the side-mirror be opened but they cannot actively search into the glove compartment nor ask for bags to be opened up. For me, my worry is my younger brother who has to return my vehicle from Cotabato City to General Santos City, hopefully he may be able to get here tomorrow and included here is a wish for him to travel safely tomorrow.


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