May 24, 2024

(Editors’ note: The Midland Courier is reprinting the columns of the late Atty. Benedicto T. Carantes as a tribute to one of its long-time columnists. This piece was published on March 5, 2006).

It is the month of March, and there are ides of foreboding in the air.
Ah, but if Lent is here, can Calvary be far behind, and before that, the agony in the garden.
We are in a state of national emergency, and people think it is Marcos martial law all over again.
And why not? After all, it is the police and the military who are defining it, not the courts or the legislature.
No wonder there are fears of warrantless arrests, and of government taking over business facilities if “warranted” by the situation.
But a state of national emergency is meant only to quell disorder, not to curtail basic rights.
In other words, the constitution has not been met aside.

Lawyers have gone to court questioning the constitutionality of proclamation 1017. They could be facing an uphill battle. But if they were to challenge the implementation of 1017, that would be a different thing.
While I believe the proclamation of a state of national emergency to be legal, I do not think it empowers law enforcement agencies to conduct warrantless arrests, or even taking control of business establishments perceived to be anti-government.

Consider too the possible abuse. Certainly not every critic of government is an enemy of the state, and not all political opponents of the president are enemies of the state, but there is the danger they will all be lumped into one – “if you are not for us, you are against us, hence an enemy of the state.”

The military also says we should stop interfering with their affairs. So let’s throw back the question at them – please stop meddling with our civilian lives and quit playing God by staging coup after coup in the name of the Filipino people.
Like my favorite taxi driver puts it, the only time a general got to run this country, he managed to have his cake and eat it too.
I have news for you fella – he still is.

The late President Ferdinand Marcos’ greatest sin was not stealing the country blind, it was letting the military have a taste of power, and they have been at it ever since.
What makes young officers think only they can reform the country, and what makes old generals think they can run the country better?
Truth is, my two sons have this surefire solution to the country’s ills – clamped all the military, the Chinese, and media in jail, and presto, the country will finally get to move forward.
Well boys, don’t forget to include the lawyers, and maybe members of the clergy, like Robert Reyes and who else.
I pray to God to sink this country to the bottom of the seas and let only the God-fearing young idealistic minds survive and live – it is the only way for the Philippines to become a truly great nation.