Dispatch from Crame No. 120: (Sen. Leila M. de Lima on the suggestion of a nationwide martial law)

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I find very disturbing, to say the least, the suggestion during yesterday’s joint session from a lady Party List member that martial law be declared nationwide.

Was it meant to be a joke? Meant to earn cheap laughter from those inclined to laugh at the situation? If so, what an offensively bad and sick joke it was.

Was it meant to be an insult to the gravity and outcome of yesterday’s exercise? A way to earn brownie points from Malacañang? If so, what a deplorably blatant and shameless way to feather one’s own interest.

Or perhaps the idea of a nationwide martial law seems thrilling to her, being someone so young that she has no idea or empathy for what people like Ninoy Aquino or former CHR Chair Etta Rosales suffered during those dark years of Marcos Martial Law, or for the harrowing experience that the people in Marawi are currently enduring — as recounted by one resource speaker — of babies dying, bodies lying unburied for days or weeks and a general disregard for what the poor and the vulnerable hold most dear: their lives and their dignity. If so, then this congresswoman has to understand that Martial Law is an extreme measure that is not to be taken lightly.

It is not meant to be taken as a first resort, or as shortcut to pave the way for federalism or any other endgames politicos and vested interests may have, besides bringing order back to areas directly affected by crisis. It is not some cheap thrill-seeking ride. It has untold ramifications, especially if key institutions will allow vague delineations and effectively unbridled exercise thereof.

Real people’s lives and well-being are on the balance. Don’t play games with people’s lives.

Don’t play with the power of declaring and extending Martial Law. It is a fire that will burn us all if recklessly handled by those supposedly elected to protect us from abuse. ###

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