'Hahahaha': Former SC Justice Carpio Reacts to Panelo's Claims That COVID-19 'Invasion' Justifies Martial Law

Other experts chimed in.
IMAGE Rennell Salumbre

“Hahahaha,” responded former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio when Philstar asked for his reaction regarding chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo’s claims that the COVID-19 pandemic constitutes as an “invasion” to justify a martial law declaration. He gave no further explanation.

According to the 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines, Article VII Section 18, martial law can only be declared “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.” Panelo claimed that the legal definition has evolved internationally since the time the law was written, saying that it can apply to a contagious disease.

"There is an actual invasion of the coronavirus disease. It threatens, in fact, the entire country,” said Panelo.

Other experts also gave their two cents, all of which seem to refute Panelo's controversial claims. Here's what they had to say: 

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra“In the context of martial law, 'invasion' refers to invasion of a country by foreign armed forces. This is analogous to the other ground for declaring martial law, i.e., rebellion, which is an armed uprising against the government by its own citizens. Both terms refer to armed actions by human beings, not by non-living things like viruses.”

Integrated Bar of the Philippines national president Domingo Egon Cayosa“The contemporary meaning of “invasion” at the time of the crafting and the ratification of the 1987 Constitution should not be stretched to cover just any excuse to declare martial law.”

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque: “No comment, but that's not Palace position.”


President of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers Edre Olalia“Unbelievable. Legally untenable, constitutionally preposterous and factually absurd, yet an extremely perilous fable.”

Still, former Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio had the best and most accurate response to the entire situation, one which sums it up quite nicely: “Hahahaha.”

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Anri Ichimura
Section Editor, Esquire Philippines
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