IBP Davao Statement on Proclamation No. 1959 Declaring The State Of Martial Law and Suspension of the Writ Of Habeas Corpus in Maguindanao

Dec. 13, 2009

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) Davao City Chapter vigorously protests the issuance of Proclamation No. 1959 declaring the state of martial rule in the province of Maguindanao as the same is without legal and factual basis. Section 18 Article VII of the 1987 Constitution provides:

“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. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it. X X X X

The above specific provision of the 1987 Constitution clearly provides only for two grounds for the declaration of martial law namely: Rebellion or Invasion. Under the revised penal code, rebellion is defined as “committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, x x x x”

While lawlessness has indeed prevailed in some identified areas in Maguindanao particularly in Ampatuan and Shariff Aguak, no actual public rising or taking up of arms for purpose of removing allegiance to the present government has happened or in fact happening. In fact, it is the head of the provincial government of Maguindanao, some members of his family including their followers who by mutual admissions are allies by President Arroyo, are now made suspects for their alleged involvement in this gruesome crime. We note that in the past few weeks since the discovery of the mass murder of 57 civilians in Ampatuan, Maguindanao which included two lady lawyers, about 30 journalists and other innocent civilians, we have witnessed thousands of military troops occupy and marched in Maguindanao in response to the call of Pres. Arroyo to suppress lawlessness, restore and maintain peace and order in the province as a consequence to the declaration of the State of Emergency earlier issued by the President.

On the contrary, the state of martial rule and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus have created undue alarm and panic among the local ordinary residents of Maguindanao and raised very serious apprehension to the entire nation as well. It is for these reasons that we call upon President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo to lift without delay the state of martial law in the province of Maguindanao.

For reference:

Atty. Socorro Ermac Cabreros, Chapter President

Atty. Martin B. Delgra III, Press Relations Officer

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