So lately I have been imagining I am Thomas Jefferson, called in as a consultant to Congress to rework the Philippine Constitution. Like, give the old document some pep. Some flair. That peculiar "national heart" that Americans assign their constitution. But it can't be a Sottocopy of the U.S. document in any way. It must be original and profound so that Filipinos hold it to their hearts and start believing the laws of their land are worth obeying, and perhaps even dying for.
I'll take two sections to see how it works and let you be the judge. Better, worse, or still muddled? The two sections are the Preamble and Article VII, Section 18, regarding the President as Commander in Chief and Martial Law.
We, the sovereign Filipino people, imploring the aid of Almighty God, in order to build a just and humane society, and establish a Government that shall embody our ideals and aspirations, promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure to ourselves and our posterity, the blessings of independence and democracy under the rule of law and a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.
This Constitution is the primary law of our great nation. It expresses our dedication a secular democratic state under the discipline of laws that care for the well-being of every citizen. We place the highest value on freedom, order, health and responsibility to others. We cherish honesty, truth, justice, kindness, equality and peace, and hold precious the knowledge that we do our best for the entire nation if we provide the opportunity for growth to every individual.
That's not bad. God is already in the hearts of all who hold Him up. He need not be documented here as He takes so many different forms. We seek harmony and health, which encompasses medicine, good nutrition, sanitation, good military defense, and all the other acts that keep us well. Freedom is value Numero Uno but it attaches to responsibility to others. We got rid of those strange words patrimony and promulgate and most of the legal stuffiness. More important, we are placing opportunity for growth, a great motivator, as the closing call to action.
Now about the President and military:
Original Article VII, Executive Department, Section 18
The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress. The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.
The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call.
The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.
A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion.
During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.
Revised Article VII, Executive Department, Section 18
The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. The President shall submit a report of his orders and actions to the Senate within 48 hours of issuance of the orders and every 60 days thereafter until such action is concluded.
The Senate and House, sitting as a combined entity, by a vote of at least a two-thirds majority of all attending Members in regular or special session, is empowered to revoke such orders, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President.
No declaration of war on another nation may be issued by the President without the concurrence of two-thirds of the Senate and House voting as a combined entity in regular or special session.
The writ of habeas corpus is a fundamental right of every person on Philippine soil, citizen or non-citizen, and may not be abridged at any time for any reason.
There, that's done.