I HOPE that headline expresses my outrage at Supreme Court Justice Marvic Leonen, against his arguments for his rejection—the only such dissent among the 15 justices—of President Duterte’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao
Leonen is a living reminder to the nation never ever to put in power such an incompetent as President Benigno Aquino 3rd, who appointed an incompetent to a crucial institution of our Republic. What a condemnation of our justice system, and a curse to the country: The youngest among the justices, at 54, this nincompoop will be in the Supreme Court until – hold your breath – 2032.
There is something deeply wrong with Leonen. He has a megalomaniacal streak, I think. His rambling dissenting opinion at 92 pages is by far the longest among the opinions written by the 14 justices, longer even than the 82 pages of the decision itself, written by Justice Mariano del Castillo.
The Constitution specifies that martial law can be declared only “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it” (Article VII, Section 18).
But Leonen claims: “The group committing atrocities in Marawi are terrorists. They are not rebels. They are committing acts of terrorism. They are not engaged in political acts of rebellion.” Therefore, Leonen claims “there is no rebellion (in Marawi) that justifies martial law”; it is unconstitutional.
This is plain stupid. “Rebellion” is defined as “an act of violent or open resistance to an established government.” Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as “deliberate, organized resistance, by force and arms, to the laws or operations of the government.”.
We all know that, don’t we? Isn’t it clear as day that the armed men in Marawi—whether they are bandits, jihadists, or just crazed shabu addicts—in the past five weeks have been “resisting the laws and operations of the government,” that they have already killed 81 of our soldiers and over two dozen civilians, several of them beheaded?
Rebels and terrorists
It is shocking that Leonen—who has a master’s degree in law from Columbia University, was a former law dean of the University of the Philippines’ law school, and was Aquino’s chief negotiator with the secessionist Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)—doesn’t know what “rebels” and “terrorists” mean.
“Rebels” refer to those fighting a government, the sole organization with the legitimate power to use force. Terrorists refer to rebels or other violent groups that use the strategy of terrorizing –- through indiscriminate killing and maiming of unarmed civilians—for the latter to lose the will to fight, or their government to capitulate to their demands. Rebellion refers to a political aim. Terrorism refers to a tool, or a strategy.
Zionists in the late 1940s who attacked unarmed Palestinians so they left their farms that allowed Eastern European Jews to occupy their lands, and consequently lay the groundwork for the establishment of a State of Israel were terrorists. But so were the Black September Muslim killers who murdered 11 Israeli athletes in Munich in 1972 – their organization’s name referring to September of 1970 when thousands of Palestinians, including civilians, were killed in Jordan. The MILF is a rebel group. It becomes a terrorist if it explodes a bomb in a public market that kill scores of people – or if they helped whoever committed such a carnage.
Leonen glosses over that part of the Constitution that says that martial law may be imposed “when the public safety requires it” by his astonishing claim: “Neither do the facts show convincingly that ‘public safety’ requires martial law.”
I suspect Leonen locked himself up in a room weeks ago—right after congressmen Edsel Lagman and Gary Alejano, and their gang of crackpots filed the case at the Supreme Court—to write his dissenting opinion, and refused to hear any news about the Marawi siege: that it had claimed the lives of over 400 people, that it had forced 100,000 civilians to evacuate the devastated city, that terrorists were using sophisticated sniper weapons as well as improvised explosive devices?
As a result, Leonen thinks there is no risk to “public safety” in Marawi.
He even claims, with no iota of evidence: “The actual acts of the criminal elements in Marawi are designed to slow down the advance of government forces and facilitate their escape. They are not designed to actually control seats of governance.” Leonen is obviously so ignorant – because of his own choosing – of what the Maute jihadists are.
They have declared to be the Lanao branch of the Iraq- and Syria-based Islamic State (IS), the jihadist organization whose aim that has inspired jihadists all over the world to flock to it is to wipe out all secular governments on the planet in order to set up the Islamic Caliphate, or Islamic theocracy.
No wonder that with Leonen’s ignorance of the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao, and his stupidity, the MILF very easily got him – he headed Aquino 3rd’s peace negotiating team, if you can call it that, with the Muslim rebels – to agree to a settlement that would essentially allow the MILF to build its Bangsamoro state in Mindanao.
If there’s anything worthwhile about Leonen’s display of brainlessness in his dissenting opinion opposing martial law, it is for Duterte to throw to the dustbin, and then start from scratch, the Bangsamoro Agreement, which Leonen had given the MILF and which the latter wants enacted into law.
What’s worse than an ignorant and stupid Supreme Court justice? A lying Leonen.
Leonen argued that Duterte’s General Order No. 1 implementing martial law “impliedly imposes a gag order on media” because of a statement there: “Media practitioners are therefore requested to exercise prudence in the performance of their duties.”
Leonen then claimed that a Supreme Court decision in 1984 (in Babst v. National Intelligence Board) ruled that such “’request’ can easily be taken as an authoritative command which one can defy only at his peril, particularly under a state of martial law.”
Leonen lied. In that case, the “request” wasn’t for media to exercise prudence – as contained in Duterte’s General Order No.1. That “request” was for a dozen columnists critical of the strongman Marcos to appear before the military’s National Intelligence Board to “shed light on certain matters” it was investigating. Worried that they would be jailed if they refused to accede to the request, the columnists filed a case at the Supreme Court asking the high court to issue an injunction against such “invitations”. (The suit was declared moot and academic as the NIB withdrew the invitations.)
The lying Leonen fabricates a Supreme Court decision in his effort to build up public opinion that Duterte’s martial law puts a gag on media.
At the end of his dissenting opinion though, Leonen himself points to the source of his stupidity and readiness to lie:
“The ghost of Marcos’ Martial Law lives within the words of our Constitution and rightly so. That ghost must be exorcised with passion by this Court whenever its resemblance reappears.”
Like a lunatic seeing ethereal entities in every shadow of his room, Leonen sees Marcos’ ghost in Duterte’s use of martial law to defeat one of the most serious threats to our nation, and that is the reason why he wrote a lengthy but inane dissent.
Imagine if the majority of the Supreme Court justices were as yellow as Leonen.
However, Leonen’s dissent is instructive to us. His is the madness of the Yellow Cult: it is trapped in some twilight zone of the Marcos era, quick to brand a strong leader as an autocrat and to see the war against illegal drugs as a massive Marcos-style human rights violation.
Do we really have to suffer for 15 years more a political psychotic in the Supreme Court?