President Arroyo has finally secured her legacy as “Marcos Lite.”
That’s my name for the president who has managed to keep the corruption levels and human rights violations during her administration under a level to cause absolute world-wide indignation.
She’s President Obama’s buddy, right.
But now Arroyo has unequivocally earned her sobriquet by using the already horrific Maguindanao mass murders to justify martial law, a straight steal from the Marcos playbook.
For one second, perhaps we can let cooler heads prevail. Is it really all that bad? It’s not full martial law. Just in Maguindanao.
Call it “Partial Martial.”
Of course, there’s no such thing as being a little bit pregnant either.
But let’s give the president the benefit of the doubt.
The power move shows Arroyo certainly isn’t going gently into her good night. I thought P.M. was supposed to stand for “prime minister,” reportedly the next coveted position Madame Arroyo was concocting for future occupancy. That would require some changes in the Philippine democracy itself, but it seems that with this “p.m.” Arroyo’s already applying some aggressive constitutional interpretation.
She’s even using the same rule that Marcos used to invoke full-on martial law.
But as Pacifico Agabin, a former dean of the University of the Philippines College of Law, told Inquirer reporters, Arroyo’s declaration is unwarranted and unnecessary as the government has shown control of the situation in Maguindanao with the arrests of the Ampatuans.
“The only grounds for the declaration of martial law are invasion and rebellion. I don’t think the Ampatuans are capable of launching a rebellion against the government,” he told the Inquirer.
He added that the constitution requires “actual rebellion,” not merely a threat.
There was already a change in the law in 1987, so that a repeat of Marcos could not be possible without a real threat to the government.
The U.S. Constitution, from which the Philippine Constitution has a “martial law” clause. But who in his right mind would declare it in a democracy without a real threat to the government.
Certainly a president can issue a “state of emergency” if need be. But to go right to martial law?
In this case, Arroyo has taken off her soiled velvet gloves and revealed her iron fist.
Did she really think it would be as becoming with her red dress?
There’s no reason for partial martial, period. A massacre, as bad as it is, isn’t a rebellion.
So what’s the purpose, of p.m.?
Arroyo likely feels the only way to distance her administration from her former allies the Ampatuans is to come down hard on on all of Maguindanao. With partial martial, she creates the illusion of zero tolerance, whereas all along she has actually empowered the Ampatuans to do as they wish.
She also tests her power. Partial martial let’s her feel the wheel of absolute control in a portion of the archipelago, and let’s her consider an option. Could she go all the way in a transgression of the constitution to extend her presidency for “the good of the country”?
Legislators and the people must speak out now. Marcos Lite? “Partial Martial” is a clear sign of a second coming.