FOR over a week now, the country has been swamped with rumors that the Arroyo government is poised to declare a state of emergency, imposing a virtual martial rule through an executive order whose existence was leaked to the media last week.

Executive Order No. 467, supposedly timed for release during the congressional recess which started on Wednesday (October 13), is reported to ‘reiterate’ the President’s constitutional authority over the military and the police.

Malacañang’s repeated denials of the existence of EO 467 as pure rumor aimed at instilling fear in the public have however not helped dispel speculations in light of Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez’s owning up to a draft of a presidential proclamation declaring a state of national emergency to take over vital industries, citing Section 17, Article XXII of the Constitution. Gonzalez has also echoed Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita’s position that the possible exercise of extraordinary powers remains an "option" to Arroyo.

Government critics have been talking of an "undeclared martial law" in the face of "draconian measures" that have already been imposed in succession through executive decisions — from the "calibrated preemptive response" (CPR) in dealing with rallies and demonstrations, EO 464 to the Philippine Army’s reported shoot-to-kill orders against recruiters for destabilization.

But what is even fueling more suspicions is the extended recess that the House of Representatives declared until November 7. The Senate has only declared a week-long break and will resume its session on October 24.

Some congressmen are saying that this is quite irregular and arbitrary as the House was only set to be on recess for a week to allow its members to attend the Inter-Parliamentary Union general assembly in Geneva. A lawmaker said that it could be that the House leadership considered extending the recess to cover even the week leading to the All Soul’s Day commemoration. Congress has only been in session for less than two weeks following a two-week break in the aftermath of the impeachment vote.

With the House on another extended three-week holiday, some congressmen said it would be unlikely that a resumption of session within the limited period of 48 hours as prescribed in the 1987 Constitution can be called so that Congress can give its required concurrence in case a national emergency is declared. Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution also explicitly gives Congress the sole power to revoke a declaration of martial law.

One senator remarked that it could be that the House wants to be "out of sight if martial law comes."

1 Response to Regarding a “state of national emergency”
and an extended Congressional recess

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Chabeli

October 17th, 2005 at 12:51 am

Heaven help us if Gloria declares martial law! All the more people MUST come together. As the old adage says, UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL. It seems to hold true even today.

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