Duterte wants to legitimize dictatorship—Lagman
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, one of the president’s vocal critics in Congress, called President Rodrigo Duterte a dictator in the making for wanting to amend the Constitution to allow martial law declaration without oversight of Congress and the Supreme Court.
In a statement on Saturday, the Liberal Party lawmaker cautioned against moves in Congress to revise the 1987 Constitution by a constituent assembly if the president wanted to legitimize the dictatorship through martial law.
Moves to amend the Constitution in Congress gained ground to pave the way from a unitary to a federal form of government, which the President advocated.
“It is dangerous to proceed in amending the Constitution either by constituent assembly or constitutional convention when we have a President who wants the legitimation of dictatorial powers,” Lagman said.
Lagman said these moves for charter change should be stopped to assure the public that congressional and judicial safeguards against martial law would be preserved.
“All initiatives to amend the Constitution must be consigned to the backburner to assure that the dismantling of congressional and judicial safeguards on the presidential declaration of martial law will not be realized,” Lagman said.
Lagman said Duterte’s statement for a one-man rule through martial law revealed his authoritarian tendencies.
“President Duterte’s unequivocal pronouncement for a return to a president’s absolute and sole authority to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus betrays his authoritarian designs which must never be constitutionalized,” Lagman said.
Lagman said the power of Congress to revoke a martial law declaration and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, as well as the judicial review by the Supreme Court on the basis of martial law, should not be clipped from the 1987 Constitution.
“The power of Congress to revoke a presidential declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus as well as the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court to review the factual basis of such declarations were mandated in the 1987 Constitution to preclude abuses curtailing civil and political rights like the unrestrained imposition of martial law without time limit,” Lagman said.
Duterte drew flak for wanting to declare martial law without the oversight of Congress and the Supreme Court, warning of conflicting findings that would confuse the law-enforcement agencies.
“If I declare martial law and there is an invasion or war, I cannot proceed on and on, especially if there is trouble. I have to go to Congress, I have to go to the Supreme Court if anybody would file a complaint to look into the factual [basis of the declaration],” Duterte said.
“But what if the world is in chaos?… That’s why there is martial law, so that only one person would be giving directions,” he added.
Duterte called the judicial and legislative safeguards in the Constitution a “reckless reaction” to the regime of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who cemented his stay in power through martial law amid human rights violations, torture and enforced disappearances. IDL