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Martial Law?

THE extant photograph in black and white of Senators Salvador Laurel, Eva Estrada Kalaw, Gerardo Roxas etc. standing to the left and right of a bolted Senate door leading to the Session Hall is a sobering reminder, if not a poignant caveat, when Executive authority, displayed in all its naked power, trespasses over a co-equal branch of government.

Said moment in time forever captured for generations and legislators to recall of the penultimate excess of presidential fiat unbounded by Constitutional limitations when Martial Law was declared in the 1970s. This was not the emergency powers originally provisioned in the 1935 Constitution to save the State. But an aberration to precisely shut down all other political avenues questioning the basis and necessity of Proclamation 1081.

If at all, the act of a president to physically and forcefully shut down a Senate at work with the use of “Commander-in-Chief powers”, must be interpreted as a violation of the fundamental cornerstone embedded in the constitutional wisdom of “checks and balances”. A government, subjected to confined authority to avoid abuse and the avarice for dictatorial power.

For had the Senate been unhampered to convene and conduct regular business, the Martial Law declaration would have been reviewed, the democratic process enlivened with the Supreme Court and the Congress watchful of its constitutionally mandated duties. The arrest and detention of certain legislators is never synonymous to the closure of the people’s House.

With one co-equal Branch of Government blocked, the Supreme Court that reviewed the Martial Law declaration was appraised of their untenable existence had they ruled otherwise. Also, of un-official history, that of “forcing the Marcos Administration” to declare a Revolutionary Government. In EDSA 2, the very same dilemma was confronted by the Supreme Court.

The “Damocles sword” hanging over the Highest Court, of a “Revolutionary Government”. In both, Honorable Justices succumbed to their worst fears and prognosis of turbulent events. Rather than confront the glaring issues on “constitutionality”, they acquiesced to preserve their bench. (Erik Espina)

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