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THELMO Martial Law Paper 2

THELMO Martial Law Paper 2

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Published by Aika Thelmo
reflection paper, assignment for martial law class
reflection paper, assignment for martial law class

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Published by: Aika Thelmo on Oct 21, 2012
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07/06/2013

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Marie Angelica M. Thelmo2001-16919Prof. Gwen De VeraMartial Law
Martial Law Years: The Judiciary as a ConstitutionalWatchdog and President Marcos’ Best Friend
In a speech,
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launching the Mabuhay Ang Pilipino Movement,President Marcos said, “No matter how strong and dedicated aleader may be, he must find root and strength amongst thepeople. He alone cannot save a nation. He may guide, he may setthe tone, he may dedicate himself and risk his life, but only thepeople may save themselves.”And that is exactly what the people did.Following the termination of martial law in 1981, socialunrest was far from over. Human rights violations were stillprevalent and the number of disappearances seemed to increaseday by day. On February 22, 1986 the people had enough. Theydecided to save themselves from the authority of a man whowasted the lives of many to preserve that of his own and of hisfamily. Thus, contrary to the remark
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of George Shultz, secretaryof state during the Reagan administration, an overwhelminglylarge number of those 40 million cowards decided to leave the
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Address at the launching of the Mabuhay Ang Pilipino Movement, Malacañang (30 November1972).
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“The Philippines is a nation of 40 million cowards and one son of a bitch.” (1982).
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safety of their homes and march into the streets to rid themselvesof a dictator, who, they very well knew could not save a nation. The colorful stories told about the Marcos dictatorship,though mostly dark and morbid, are like scenes in a dramaticmovie. But the legal backdrop for the declaration of martial law isunfortunately, not taken with much interest by many people,except those probably in the legal community. However, noteven all those belonging in the legal community are aware of theimpact of the judiciary’s action during the period of martial law.As evidenced by a remark made by a member of the BatasangPambansa during class, he “was not familiar [with the doctrinelaid down in] the
 Javellana
case.”It is notable that all resource persons interviewed duringclass have claimed that there was indeed social unrest prior andduring Marcos’ term as president. The most comprehensive of alllectures, however, was that delivered by Justice Vicente V.Mendoza. In his lecture
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, Justice Mendoza, then working as alawyer in the Office of the Solicitor General, gave a shortbackground of the period prior to the declaration of martial law.From his narration one could see how the events that transpiredled to a constitutional monarchy under the Marcos regime.According to Justice Mendoza, a constitutional conventionwas called in 1970 because the status quo could not be
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Martial Law class, 24 February 2011.
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maintained. The government needed to amend the Constitutionto address social unrest. Later, even the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was suspended in order to quell the subversionbrewing underground. Although mass protests were generallypeaceful, the former justice claimed that one could easily tell that“something was amiss.When the privilege of the writ wassuspended, the government’s position was that the suspension of the privilege was a political question. However, the Court decidedotherwise in the
Lansang
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case, stating that it was a justiciableissue the courts could inquire into. Nonetheless, the court upheldthe suspension of the privilege of the writ. Despite being on theside of the government, Justice Mendoza acknowledged that thesuspension of the privilege created several problems. In sum,there were two problems lawyers had to reckon with: one, arrestsand detention were made for personal reasons; two, because of the suspension of the privilege, the courts could not inquire intothe validity of the arrest.Martial law was proclaimed after the court upheld thevalidity of the suspension of the privilege of the writ in the
Lansang
case and while the constitutional convention waswinding up. It seems that Marcos was in a hurry to have the newConstitution (1973) up and running in order to effect changes. Inorder to railroad its passage, President Marcos sent the draft of the 1973 Constitution to the plebiscite for voting. Later, Marcosdecided to hold a citizen’s assembly to ratify the Constitution.
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Lansang v. Garcia 42 SCRA 448 (1971).
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