Manila Times: DOJ chief warns of martial law

MANILA TIMES
June 15th, 2009 in Breaking News, Martial Law


Outgoing Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez on Tuesday warned that President Gloria Arroyo can declare martial law if protest rallies by opposition groups against Charter change, or “Cha-cha,” through a Constituent Assembly, or “Con-Ass,” got out of hand.

“It there is anarchy, yes the President can declare martial law,” Gonzalez said.

He stressed, though, that President Arroyo imposing military rule would happen only under a worst-case scenario, saying that he was confident that the mass actions would turn out peaceful.

“That [possible declaration of martial law] will depend on what happens really because I’m quite hopeful here. Everybody is calling for peaceful demonstrations,” Gonzalez added.

Mrs. Arroyo, he said, is vested by the Constitution with the power and authority to use extraordinary measures, like declaration of martial law, in extraordinary times.

Gonzalez explained that the President could only declare martial law with the concurrence of three-fourths of the members of the Senate and the House of Representatives voting separately.

Such declaration, he said, is also subject for review by Congress 60 days after its approval.

The United Opposition led by Mayor Jejomar Binay of Makati City was expected to hold today supposedly the first in a series of demonstrations against Con-Ass at the city’s central business district. The influential Makati Business Club, civil-society groups and reportedly some top members of the Catholic Church were also expected to be represented there.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police have already been placed on alert in preparation for Wednesday’s protest.

Maj. Carlo Ferrer, the spokesman for the National Capital Region Command, also on Tuesday said that the full-alert status would allow quick deployment of military forces to assist the national police in case the protest turned rowdy.

The police have activated Task Force Manila Shield to ensure that today’s mass action the would be peaceful and orderly.