Monday, September 26, 2005

No Martial Law; Gov't Takeover, Yes

Two officials of the Department of Justice today faced justice reporters to deny allegations by ex-Solicitor General Frank Chavez that they had drafted a document which was short of proclaiming martial law.

Atty. Benny Nicdao, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez' chief of staff, and State Prosecutor Jaime Umpa said it was impossible for them to have been entrusted (to draft) such a "sensitive document."

"There's no truth to the claim that there is a draft proclamation of martial law," Nicdao said.

But Nicdao did confirm that Gonzalez instructed them to explore all possible options, not for a martial rule, but a government takeover of public utilities such as power and oil corporations.

Gonzalez said that he thought of exploring legal justification for such an act just in case President Gloria Arroyo seeks it.

"Si Presidente mabigat magtanong. (She throws very difficult questions). And if she answers for you, mapapahiya ka (it's embarrassing)," Gonzalez said.

He said he asked Nicdao to look into Article 12, sec. 17 of the
Constitution. The section grants the President the power "during the emergency and under reasonable terms prescribed by it, (to)temporarily take over or direct the operation of any privately-owned public utility or business affected with public interest.

"If she declares martial law, I will be the first one to resign. But there's no such plan. His source is pulling his leg and briefs," Gonzalez said.

Chavez on Saturday divulged that one of his sources in the justice department told him that Nicdao was preparing the draft. Two others sources outside the deparment have confirmed the existence of the document, he said, but admits that he didn't have an actual copy of the rumored proclamation.

watch news video report here at

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