Press Release
December 5, 2009


Aquino: We feel that there is no basis for the imposition of Martial Law. There are so many powers vested in the President that could have been done and should have been done instead of imposing Martial Law.

Question: Will there be legal action taken by the LP?

Aquino: We have been discussing this since last night. We have also been misled by statements from the Palace. There were text messages circulating that Martial Law would be imposed. This was denied last night only to be imposed this morning. We read in the papers that the Cabinet doesn't seem to be united. Secretary Puno is being quoted as Martial Law not being necessary. So we are actually in the midst of a meeting to discuss the appropriate responses and also when the Palace reports to Congress by Monday in response to Constitutional provisions, we want to make sure that there are no "agendas" other than the review of the Martial Law imposition.

Question: Speaker Nograles was saying that they only need to disapprove or revoke the declaration of Martial Law but they don't need to approve. What are the legislators who are part of LP saying about this?

Aquino: There is a need. The Constitution is very specific. The Executive has to report--the President or the duly designated representative has to report--to Congress, even if it is not in session. We are session now. We are supposed to review and we can either concur or not with the imposition of Martial Law. The President cannot set aside the decision of Congress with regard to the legality and factual basis for imposing Martial Law and for the period--this can be extended, this can be curtailed. So there is a need for Congress to convene.

Question: What can you say (given) that this is being declared leading up to the campaign period and election season?

Aquino: There were a lot of text messages sowing a lot of fear among the populace last night. Now, there's been a bombing, I understand, in Jolo. Will the imposition of Martial Law in Maguindanao lead to an imposition in other areas? Is this just their opening act of what is perceived to be the intention to assume more powers under the Constitution? That is what we have to be vigilant about. And of course, there are those who've opined that there will be other matters that will be carried out in the joint session such as Con-Ass.

Question: What points are you going to raise in case there is going to be a joint session of Congress on Monday?

Aquino: I don't think the question of whether there's going to be a joint session is valid. There is a Constitutional mandate that once martial law is proclaimed, the President will have to report Congress. We are exactly discussing with some of our colleagues what we will do to keep that agenda only on that matter. When you have a joint session, the Senate, in effect, becomes "subsumed" by the majority of numbers of the House of Representatives.

Question: After the declaration this morning, several arrests were made in Maguindanao but you had Justice Secretary Devanadera careful not to say the word "arrests," saying they were just invited for questioning. What do you make of all of this?

Aquino: We have martial law and with the proclamation that also suspended the writ of habeas corpus, you could have affected the arrests already. Under the Human Security Act - that could have also been used as a means, specifically after the Maguindanao massacre. But again, our argument is, an invasion did not happen and the rebellion with the public uprising also did not happen. Hence there is no reason for the imposition of martial law. This seems to buttress our argument that there is no public uprising - plus the fact that they are merely being invited for questioning.

Question: The generals at press conference this morning said there were small groups of individual who were armed that is why there was a threat, a looming rebellion or an imminent rebellion. But you also have some groups saying this could have been done under the state of emergency because these are private armies and private groups. What can you say to that?

Aquino: Let me tell you this. Under the Revised Penal Code Article 143 on "Rebellion or insurrection - How committed. The crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising publicly and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Philippine Islands or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogative." Now, again - if these armed groups were formed after the massacre, then perhaps, there would have been a basis for rebellion. But the thing is, most of these groups were and those implicated in the massacre were established even before the massacre. They didn't push us to a public uprising and are supposed to be elements under the control of government and state agents.

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