MANILA—Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin M. Drilon on Thursday chided President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s chief legal counsel for claiming that the magnitude of drug cases may warrant the declaration of martial law.
“Even a freshman law student can easily debunk Atty. Salvador Panelo’s statement as having no legal basis. I do not know which Constitution he has learned in law school but our present Constitution has only provided two grounds for the declaration of martial law – invasion or rebellion. Drug menace is definitely not one of them,” Drilon said.
In his media interviews, Panelo has been quoted as saying that “the magnitude of the drug problem that has risen to a crisis proportion may require the application of the provision of the Constitution when it says that the President can declare martial law when the public safety requires it.”
“The presidential chief legal counsel would want us to believe that the Constitution allows the President ‘to declare martial law, not only in case of invasion or rebellion, but also when public safety requires it,’” Drilon said.
A lawyer and former justice secretary, Drilon explained that the 1987 Constitution only allows the declaration of martial law, upon the concurrence of two requisites: one, when there is actual invasion or rebellion and two, when public safety requires it.
These two requisites must be present, which Panelo conveniently disregarded, he noted.
Drilon lectured Panelo, saying that the phrase “when public safety requires it” under the present Constitution is not a ground upon itself, but a condition that qualifies the two grounds provided under the Constitution.
“I think Panelo is re-writing the Constitution,” Drilon said.
Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution states that, “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 corps or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”
“I think it is time that Atty. Panelo review basic legal principles to better serve the country as the President’s chief legal counsel and to avoid issuing erroneous and reckless statements,” Drilon said.