ALTHOUGH it may said that President Rodrigo Duterte had an inkling of declaring martial rule early on to solve the country’s pressing problems, it was because of the terroristic act of the Maute group that he placed in haste the entire Mindanao under martial law.
Everybody condemns terrorism. In the words of Mindanao Catholic bishops, “In the strongest terms we condemn terrorism in its various forms. It is an ideology that is totally against the tenets of any religion of peace. Especially so when terrorism is perpetrated while our Muslim brothers and sisters are preparing for the holy month of Ramadhan. Terrorism distorts and falsifies the true meaning of any religion.”
The majority of the Senators and, presumably, the majority of the population support the decision of President Duterte to declare Martial Law in response to the Marawi crisis. Most netizens, or mostly those who have not experienced the Marcos rule, have no second thoughts about martial law. For them what is important is a once-and-for-all solution to the protracted Mindanao conflict. At this point in time, many believe that martial law is the only answer to local terrorism. For now, it does not matter that the root cause of the conflict in Mindanao lurks in social injustice, poverty and, to quote Pope Francis, in “ideology that masquerades as religion.”
Despite safeguards guaranteed by the 1987 Constitution, however, not a few have questioned the legitimacy and efficacy of declaring Martial Law. The Catholic bishops of Mindanao in a statement signed by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo have raised several questions, too. But the answers to many questions, they say, are speculative. “We have many fears. But at present we simply do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of Martial Law as morally reprehensible. But we are certainly agreed that Martial Law must be temporary. We shall condemn any abuse of Martial Law and as in the past will condemn it outright if it goes in the way of evil,” so said the bishops.
The only rub is, history do have many answers even to forward-looking questions. Even without mentioning Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., who seems to be the idol of the present dispensation, other countries tell of history where absolute rule has become worse than pockets of terrorism. Terrorism pales in comparison with the devastation that absolute military might has plagued humanity. Pray tell that there are no dictators in the making out there, or else even Congress and other democratic institutions will not be able to withstand–as in the past.