Ermita admits: there was no actual rebellion

“You may be correct there was no actual rebellion going on,” Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita admitted during interpellation by Rep. Edcel Lagman, but then he turned around and added: “But [there were] all indications [that] rebellion [was] being committed and happening on the ground because of the presence of armed groups…”
Lagman kept asking Acting Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera about the elements of rebellion. Was there a public uprising, how did the Ampatuans withdrew their allegiance from the national government? The closure of public offices, he said, would be more likely to fall under sedition, not rebellion. There were no reports of a public uprising before December 4, when martial law was declared over Maguindanao, he said.

Lagman: 1986…reason for the deletion according to regalado, recent events shown that phrase imminent danger fraud with possibilities…

Ermita: not necessary that there was actual fighting…elements…number of armed groups ready to prevent authorities from exercising duties and preventing lawlessness…you may be correct there was no actual rebellion going on but all indications rebellion being committed and happening on ground because of presence of armed groups that prevent authority…

Lagman: we are happy to note there is an admission there was no actual rebellion in maguindanao. But the presence of armed groups would be indicative of lawlessness..which is not synonymous to rebellion. As a matter of fact Mindanao situation which was made by police director Andres caro premised on statement that this was worst election related violence. An act of gross lawlessness. But definitely not related to rebellion. May I ask hon. Sec of justice, what facts convinced them that instead of looming rebellion there is actual rebellion in maguindanao. Because looming rebellion is an aberration you cannot find in constitution.

Devanadera: the sequence of events…arrests…my first reaction was, it may be a looming rebellion. However when I read and when I sifted through other reports we, it was clear that it was not something looming, it was actual rebellion. And we were able to conclude because we were already given the information that the armed heavily armed groups had taken very strategic positions within maguindanao and within the various towns controlled by the ampatuans such that they were in effect preventing the implementation and enforcement of laws and giving threat to public safety. They were the armed groups were…as stated in…(quotes report)…so those were the things, the events, that was the situation that was presented to us. Would like to take exception to word looming as my personal conclusion when I participated in the discussion of the basis for the imposition of martial law.

Lagman: when we look at elements of rebellion…elements are public uprising, taking arms against government. In maguindanao, prior to declaration of martial law, was there a public uprising?

Devanadera: the fact that there was massing of many people who are heavily armed and taking very strategic positions to prevent enforcement of laws, to our mind this has satisfied the first element of rebellion.

Lagman: that could be lawlessness, which according to fr bernas…if there is only imminent danger, then power of pres to call AFP to prevent such imminent danger would be sufficient. May we also know if there was taking up arms, an overt act against gov’t?

Devanadera: on basis of report, there were overt acts. Since you mentioned fr bernas, wrote in his column about concepts of rebellion under constitution for purposes of declaring martial and under rpc for purposes of conviction.

Lagman: conviction require criminal process. But we are talking of existence of actual rebellion as ground for declaring martial law. We also heard one of reasons why there is claim that rebellion is taking place in maguindanao is because civil authorities have reportedly stopped to function. Is that an element of rebellion?

Devanadera: we cannot take one particular event or situation in isolation. It is our submission and our position that all the events must be taken all together in order to appreciate actual rebellion going on at time martial law was declared.

Lagman: to my mind, the non-functioning of civil authorities more indicative of sedition rather than rebellion. 139.to prevent national gov’t or any public officer thereof from freely exercising his or her functions…or prevent execution…that would be an element of sedition, but sedition is not ground for declaration of martial law, it is actual rebellion.

Devanadera: sedition is different from rebellion because sedition contemplates tumultuous situation…

Lagman: that is not the point. Prevention of civil authorities from exercising function is an element of sedition. Very clear in revised penal code. Prior to dec 4, day martial law was declared, from the maguindanao situation, there is no report in that maguindanao situation of actual armed public uprising against the gov’t. you review the report given to us by pol dir Andres caro. There is no mention whatsoever that prior to dec 4 there was public uprising, an armed uprising against the gov’t in maguindanao. That would negate factual basis of declaration of martial law and suspension of writ of habeas corpus. At any rate…I think there are more who would like to ask or interpellate

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