Panelo gets rebuked for likening pandemic to invasion
MANILA, Philippines — The National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) on Monday slammed chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo’s remark claiming that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic can be considered as “invasion” and ground for declaration of martial law.
“Unbelievable. Legally untenable, constitutionally preposterous and factually absurd, yet an extremely perilous fable,” NUPL President Edre Olalia said in a statement.
During his program on state-run television network, Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte can declare martial law on grounds that the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is considered an “invasion.”
“It can mean the entry of a disease and transfer from one area to another. Tandaan po ninyo, ano bang meron ngayon? [Remember, what do we have now?] There is an actual invasion of the coronavirus disease which is pandemic. It threatens, in fact, the entire country and lahat ng kababayan natin [and all of our countrymen],” Panelo said in his program aired over state-run PTV.
“So may aktwal na invasion. And public safety is endangered. E hindi ba yun ang sinasabi ng Constitution? May rebellion or invasion, when public safety requires?” he added.
(There is an actual invasion. And public safety is endangered. Isn’t that what the Constitution says? There is rebellion or invasion [and] when the public safety requires [it]?)
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President may only proclaim martial law in case of invasion and rebellion when the public safety requires it.
On the other hand, sought for his comment, retired Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonio Carpio has this to say: “My comment? Hahahaha.” No further explanation was given.
Earlier, Duterte threatened to declare martial law should lawlessness involving the communist rebels continue, which earned the ire of his critics.
Malacañang, however, denied allegations that Duterte is using the COVID-19 pandemic to declare martial law.
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