By Jel Santos
Former vice president Jejomar “Jojo” Binay on Tuesday described Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo’s statement that the coronavirus “invasion” is a ground for declaring martial law as “fanciful and hallucinatory.”
“The Constitution is very clear on the grounds for declaring martial law. There is no room for interpretation, or, in the case of the Presidential Legal Counsel, fanciful and hallucinatory misinterpretation,” the former vice president said.
“But while we may be amused by his statement, the fact that it was even made public by a key member of the Cabinet should give us reason to pause and prepare for what comes next,” Binay, the convenor of the Concerned Lawyers for Civil Liberties, added.
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President may place the country or any place within it under martial law in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.
Justice Secretary Menandro Guevarra, meanwhile, said COVID-19 cannot be used as a legal basis in declaring martial law.
“In the context of martial law, ‘invasion’ refers to invasion of a country by foreign armed forces,” he said.
President Duterte recently threatened to declare martial law if communist rebels will continue with their “lawlessness.”
This came after two soldiers were killed by members off the New People’s Army in Aurora Province while distributing relief goods on April 21.