Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo, guest speaker at the University of the Philippines Alumni Association (UPAA) “Kapihan ng Bayan sa UP”, explained the reasons for President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. Panelo said Duterte’s martial law aimed to crush terrorist and drug groups and networks. He also shared his thoughts on establishing a “constitutional dictatorship”, wherein, to address the problems of the state, dictatorial powers were to be exercised by the president, yet these powers would be limited by the constitution. The Kapihan was held on July 18 at the UPAA Board Room of Ang Bahay ng Alumni in UP Diliman, Quezon City.
In the open forum, Panelo answered questions from the audience. Several issues were raised, such as: the scope and duration of martial law in Mindanao; apprehension about a possible extension of military rule; rights violations committed by government troops; relief and rehabilitation efforts; and, the overall welfare of the evacuees who were most affected by the Marawi crisis.
Panelo, an alumnus of UP Diliman and the UP College of Law, served as legal counsel of several high profile and controversial personalities, such as: Mayor Andal Ampatuan Jr., Senator Bong Revilla, former Commission on Elections Chairman Benjamin Abalos, and the family of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
Facilitators of the forum were: Atty. Ramon M. Maronilla, UPAA president; Atty. Bienvenido I. Somera, Jr., UPAA Legal Counsel; Atty. Domingo C. Palarca, UPAA director; Atty. Oscar P. Palabyab, UPAA 1st vice president; Atty. Reynaldo C. Laserna, UPAA 2nd vice president; Dr. Teodoro J. Herbosa, UPAA 3rd vice president; and Atty. Pastor Marcelo M. Reyes, Jr., UPAA Public Issues Committee chair. The “Kapihan ng Bayan sa UP” is the UPAA’s regular public forum for nationally relevant issues. (Fred Dabu, UP MPRO)