PRESIDENTIAL Legal Counsel Juan Ponce Enrile on Wednesday floated the idea of reverting to the Philippine’s 1935 Constitution, which has a broader provision for declaring martial rule.
“We should follow the system under the 1935 Constitution,” he said. “Take the 1987 Constitution out; it has many inconsistencies,” said Mr. Enrile at a Senate hearing on constitutional amendments.
The 98-year-old lawyer served as minister for justice and defense under the late dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos, father and namesake of the current Philippine president.
Mr. Enrile pointed out the condition of “imminent danger” of insurrections or rebellions in declaring Martial Law, which is specified in the old Constitution.
Under the current Constitution framed in 1987 after a popular street uprising toppled the Marcos dictatorship, the president can only declare martial law in an event of invasion or rebellion, and the period of effectivity is set at a maximum of 60 days.
“They messed with the Martial Law provision. What use is martial law if the threat has come to pass?” Mr. Enrile said referring to the framers of the 1987 Constitution.
Neri J. Colmenares, former representative of Bayan Muna Party-list and chair of the National Union of People’s Lawyers, countered Mr. Enrile during the same hearing.
“Our poverty now is not caused by the Constitution, so amending it is not the solution,” he said during the same hearing.
“We keep on fighting against the Martial Law era because of the hardships experienced by the Filipino people,” said Mr. Colmenares, who was imprisoned as a student activist during the Marcos regime.
“It should not be repeated because once the military rules and civilian authority is supplanted, we have a big problem,” he said. — John Victor D. Ordoñez