Martial law has psychological impact on public, but not to extremists: analyst

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 15 2017 07:14 PM

MANILA- While he agrees with Solicitor General Jose Calida's statement that martial law has a purely psychological effect, declaring it over the whole island of Mindanao is still unnecessary, political analyst Antonio La Viña said.

La Viña, former dean of the Ateneo School of Government, said declaring martial law is no different from the President's power to call out the armed forces, but noted that there are no facts presented in the declaration that prove that rebellion in other parts of Mindanao endangers public safety.

“So it’s not rebellion itself that justifies martial law. It’s rebellion plus public safety,” he said in an interview on ANC’s “Early Edition” Thursday.

President Rodrigo Duterte last May 23 placed the entire island of Mindanao under military rule after the Islamist Maute rebels and other insurgents laid siege to the the Muslim city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur. 

The clashes, now on its 4th week, forced nearly all of its 200,000 residents to flee and have left over 200 people dead.

La Viña said oral arguments at the Supreme Court over the martial law declaration show there is no difference between a martial law declaration and the President's power to call out the armed forces. 

“The main revelation yesterday from SolGen Calida, people make fun about it, but he’s right about it and the justices confirmed that is there’s no difference between a martial law declaration and the calling out power from the President. It’s purely psychological,” he said.

The problem, however, according to La Viña is that martial law only has a psychological impact on the public but not to extremists who “love” it and see it as a victory for them.

“The rebels or the Maute terrorists, for example, they love this. They love that martial law has been declared, it’s a victory for them,” he said.

La Viña said the Supreme Court, on the last day of oral arguments over the declaration of martial law, should go to the factual bases of the decision.

"Frankly, my own position looking at what I’ve seen, what I’ve heard, it seems difficult to overcome the presumption that the President had sufficient basis to declare martial law in Marawi," he said.