Manifestation of Sen. Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III at the joint session of Congress on martial law, December 14, 2009
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, over the weekend, the President lifted the proclamation of martial law. Under different circumstances or perhaps if done by a judicious President, her act should have calmed the public groping for answers as to whether there was an existing rebellion at the time of the proclamation. But her act has raised more questions that need to be answered.
We join the condemnation of the massacre of 57 Filipinos in Maguindanao. Condemnation is not enough. We need to unearth the conditions that allowed such a crime in order to prevent a recurrence.
If we are to remain committed to the constitutional principles upon which the whole fiber of a just and orderly society rests, it behooves us to continue to inquire as to the factual basis of the declaration of martial law.
Was there truly a legal basis for declaring martial law in Maguindanao?
Was the restoration of peace and order the real reason for the imposition of martial law or are there other reasons yet unseen?
Was it to instill fear, given the very negative connotations of martial law?
Was there actual, not just impending, rebellion?
Was martial law imposed to cover up the discovery of DND/PNP arms and ammunition proving government support for the warlords that have delivered questionable election victories to this administration in the past?
Was it to enforce such overwhelming control to prevent any leakage of information and suppress evidence of electoral fraud and other crimes?
Was it meant to re-establish control of the alleged massive electoral fraud machinery in time for the 2010 elections?
Was this a test case for implementing martial law rule in the entire country?
Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, the people deserve an answer, an explanation of the circumstances that led the administration to resort to this action. The joint session of Congress was the ideal venue for providing the needed enlightenment. Let the people’s voice be heard and indeed, it is through us that they will be heard. Let us not shirk from our responsibility, lest we transform ourselves into a passive accomplice of this administration’s penchant for constitutional defiance.
The President’s action has deprived Congress of its constitutional mandate to exercise oversight on how martial law powers are wielded.
Some claim that with the lifting of the proclamation of martial law in Maguindanao our constitutional duty in this whole exercise have become moot and academic. But as elected representatives of the people it is within our constitutional duty to ensure that this historic convening of both chambers of Congress will not be an exercise in futility.
It is for this reason, Mr. President, Mr. Speaker, that this representation urges both chambers to create a jointly appointed Independent Commission that will study and come up with recommendations to Congress in aid of legislation as to clearly define the conditions that would warrant the declaration of martial law, a definition of how the Commander-In-Chief should exercise martial law powers and to provide guidance to the Congress in the exercise of its oversight function over this presidential prerogative.
[Archived from the official campaign web site of President Benigno S. “Noynoy” Aquino III]