Clear and present danger
The lone gunman attack at the plush Resorts World Manila near the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Naia) may have sealed the deal for President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law throughout the country.
And unlike the Marcos years where the late strongman was accused of staging the explosions including the attack on his then defense secretary Juan Ponce Enrile, the attacks in Marawi City were staged by the Maute Group that claims affiliation with the international terrorist group Islamic State (IS), which also claimed responsibility for yesterday’s attack at Resorts World Manila in Pasay City.
Unless one is a conspiracy nut who would speculate that the attacks were staged for President Duterte’s benefit — one side benefit of these attacks is that they can fuel and expedite his administration’s campaign to federalize the government — it would be difficult to argue the grounds for justifying the declaration of martial law in the country.
In the Visayas, Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino warned that the President can extend martial law to cover the Visayan islands if there will be clear indications that terrorists will stage attacks in the region.
Then, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a statement that if terrorism does spread to the Visayas, he will not hesitate to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas in lieu of martial law, which will allow the police and military to enforce warrantless arrests and indefinitely detain anyone they suspect of terrorist or any illegal activity beyond the prescribed 24-hour period.
In raising the warning on the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, President Duterte justified that the IS terrorist group is determined to supplant “our way of life,” and news reports from around the world bear witness to this claim.
The IS claim of responsibility for the attack on Resorts World Manila also comes amid the bombing at singer Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester, Great Britain, that claimed 22 lives.
The basic justification for martial law is “clear and present danger,” and it may only be a matter of time before President Duterte declares martial law in effect throughout the country.
In the event it does come to pass, we hope Congress and the judiciary will still remain the bulwarks of democracy they were instituted to be and that civil liberties like free speech and freedom of movement will not be compromised nor abolished.
The country’s media which President Duterte has treated with much contempt and backlash should be allowed to continue with its watchdog and fiscalizer role in preventing the abuses committed by authorities under a very tense and dangerous time.
Most of all, we hope and pray that the country’s enemies will be vanquished or at least neutralized in order to lift martial law while securing its borders.
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