Ex-senator Kit Tatad: Duterte should not threaten declaration of nationwide martial law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, September 21) — Former Senator Francisco "Kit" Tatad on Thursday said President Rodrigo Duterte should refrain from making threats over declaring nationwide martial law.

"That's regrettable, because no president should be making announcements like this. When you make a statement like that, you should be ready to proclaim martial law, not make threats," Tatad told CNN Philippines' News Night.

Tatad served as the Minister of Public Information under President Ferdinand Marcos and was the youngest member of the Cabinet when martial law was first declared on September 23, 1972.

He was the one who said the martial law proclamation on-air, before Marcos explained the reasons behind the martial law hours later.

 

On May 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao following the attack of ISIS-linked rebel group Maute on Marawi City.

Since then, Duterte has repeatedly threatened to expand martial law to Visayas and even Luzon should there be a spillover of the attacks.

READ: Duterte: Possible nationwide martial law; could last longer

"To begin with, malinaw na ang ating probisyon sa ating Constitution (The provisions are clear in our Constitution). You have to have an actual invasion or rebellion, and the public safety should require it. When there is no actual invasion or rebellion, how can you possibly declare martial law?" Tatad said.

However, Tatad added, proper procedure has not been always followed.

"For instance, there is a requirement that the Congress must meet in joint session to approve or reject the proclamation, and there is a time frame within 48 hours for Congress to meet," he said.

While both the House of Representatives and the Senate met for a joint session to extend the effectivity of martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year, they did not convene before the first declaration.

READ: Congress grants Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao until end of year

"Mali po yun, kasi mandatory requirement ng Constitution 'yon (That was wrong, because it's a mandatory requirement by the Constitution). It's not subject to the discretion of the Congress," Tatad said.

Duterte earlier announced Sept. 21 as a "National Day of Protest" in commemoration of the 45th anniversary of Marcos' martial law declaration.

READ: LOOK: Protesters hold anti-Duterte rally on martial law anniversary

Several pro and anti-administration groups and institutions staged protests nationwide.

Defense secretary and martial law administrator Delfin Lorenzana, however, said there is a "remote" possibility that Duterte will declare nationwide martial law if there are massive protests across the country.