Press Release
December 5, 2009


I view with utmost concern the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao province, especially after the reported discovery of arms caches and documents related to past elections. I hope that this is not the case of "Maguindanao today-the Philippines tomorrow."

The constitution is very clear. Section 18, Article 7 explicitly states that only in case of invasion or rebellion, and when the public safety requires it, can the commander-in-chief exercise this extreme option. These two cases are not obviously present in Maguindanao.

The current state of emergency would have sufficed to address the clamor for justice for the massacre victims and restore the rule of law in the province. For the longest time, this government has tolerated and promoted the culture of warlordism in Mindanao. Now, it seeks to be a warlord to undo what it has done.

On its face, the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao is legally defective. The President's decision as well to suspend the writ of habeas corpus even during martial law is highly irregular. I am sure that Congress will act on this matter without delay.

In the meantime, I urge all military and police commanders to make sure that human rights are respected during this period.

I will oppose any attempt to use this tragic and reprehensible incident to prevent the truth about these illegal arms caches and documents that may related to electoral fraud from coming out through the imposition of martial law. I call on the people to be vigilant and to resist moves by those who seek to rule beyond 2010.

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