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Out of step again

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“Alarming” and “distressing” were the words used by leftist National Union of People’s lawyers (NUPL) president Edre Olalia in reaction to the 9-4 Supreme Court (SC) vote upholding the constitutionality of the third extension of martial law.

“Duterte has proven that the martial law he imposed in Mindanao hardly curtails the rights of the people in Mindanao.

The SC sided with the government — which argued that rebellion persists in Mindanao — despite allegations by the petitioners that there is no basis for the extension. The NUPL represented the House of Representatives’ Makabayan bloc, a known left-leaning organization, one of the groups that challenged the extension before the High Court.

These leftists with communist links will always oppose anything government does that would make it more difficult for the commies and its armed rebels to go about their usual business of extorting money from big businesses and terrorizing communities to control the residents.

The imposition of martial law not only makes it easier for government to nab and charge the Muslim terrorists — foreign and local — but also the armed commies and its leaders in hiding, which is probably the main reason why they are against the extensions of martial law.

It has been noted, however, there has been no real opposition to the SC decision by the general public, perhaps because the people hardly fear martial law Duterte-style, which is so different from the martial law imposed by then President, the late Ferdinand Marcos, whose regime then was transformed into an authoritarian, if not dictatorial regime.

It is only the left and the usual aboveground commies and left-leaning activists who make such a mountain out if this Duterte molehill of a martial law. It is suspected that martial law will make it easier for the military and police to arrest the New People’s Army rebels, along with other leaders who were granted bail by the courts as Communist Party of the Philippines and National Democratic Front negotiators who jumped bail.

It is, of course, for dramatic effect that the NUPL’s Olalia comes up with such a reaction as alarming over the SC ruling affirming the third extension of martial law in Mindanao, since, being a lawyer, he certainly knows, but refuses to concede, that the decision was based on what the Constitution states in the martial law proviso. And it is certain that they failed to substantiate their claim that the martial law imposition has no basis, especially as it is evident that there are foreign and local terrorists who have to be stopped.

Olalia argued in an interview at the UP College of Law that the ruling “is very dangerous and if it continues this way, it’s very distressing that the venues and arenas for remedies, judicial and legal, are not going to be availing or responsive.”

He said “if the Executive concurred in by the Legislative and then validated by the Judiciary are singing the same song, then where do the people go?”

Olalia issued the warning that more extensions or expansions of martial law coverage pose the danger of curtailment of the civil and political rights of Filipinos.

There Olalia goes again, exaggerating dangers where there are none.

So, what is wrong or even undemocratic about a legislature coming up with a law allowing for an extension, which the Executive seeks, whether once, twice or three times and perhaps even four times, while the Judiciary votes for the extensions? This is what the constitutional proviso provides for, which states that the President can unilaterally declare martial law for a period of 60 days, after which, if he wants an extension, he must seek this from Congress.

As long as Congress grants the President the extensions he seeks, then they are still constitutional. It is always the High Court that decides a petition questioning the constitutionality of the martial law which it did when ruling the third extension to be constitutional.

Of what then are the dangers Olalia speaks? The curtailment of the people’s civil and political rights? Is Olalia blind, deaf and dumb to raise the people’s civil and political rights?

Duterte has not even suspended the writ of habeas corpus, the writ that allows the instant detention of suspects. Moreover, Duterte has proven that the martial law he imposed in Mindanao hardly curtails the rights of the people in Mindanao. There is no ban on traveling abroad and even to other parts for Filipinos in Mindanao. There are arrests, yes, but they are done within the law and suspects are charged and filed in court, once terrorist suspects are found and captured.

Free speech has not been curtailed, and the press is free to the extent of criticizing Duterte and his government — and by Muslims in Mindanao, too — so unlike the martial law imposed by Marcos and the legislative branch has not been closed down. What danger then exists, especially as the first declaration and all its previous extensions, the government has proved that it has not abused its martial law powers?

Their argument is lame, which is why these commies can’t win their cases in court.

Time for them to be in step with the general public instead of being out of step every time.

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