By Jeffrey Damicog
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra believes that the “invasion” of the deadly 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cannot be used as a basis in declaring martial law.
Guevarra pointed this out after Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo on Monday offered the possibility of declaring martial law on the ground of “invasion” committed by COVID-19.
“In the context of martial law, ‘invasion’ refers to invasion of a country by foreign armed forces,” Guevarra told reporters.
Similarly, he added that the other basis for martial law is rebellion “which is an armed uprising against the government by its own citizens.”
“Both terms refer to armed actions by human beings, not by non-living things like viruses,” the Secretary pointed out.
Likewise, Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) President Domingo Egon Cayosa also expressed a similar view to Guevarra.
“That may be a creative interpretation of the Constitution but a more careful reading of the records of the Constitutional Commission and a number of Supreme Court rulings would show that the mere spread of a deadly virus is not the ‘invasion’ envisioned by Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution,” Cayosa cited in a statement.
“The contemporary meaning of ‘invasion’ at the time of the crafting and the ratification of the 1987 Constitution should not be stretched to cover just any excuse to declare martial law,” he added.
On the other hand, Cayosa believes that the government could use another basis in declaring martial law during this pandemic.
“Lawless violence (if there is factual basis of such during the COVID 19 pandemic) and ‘public safety requires it’ may be a more logical and legal ground for the declaration of martial law which Congress may revoke if it finds no basis or need for martial law,” said Cayosa as he cited the Constitution.