The President has been actively exercising his commander-in-chief powers by directly supervising the operations to end the Zamboanga standoff.
Last week, we had a post here on the commander-in-chief powers of the President: In particular: 1)the so-called “calling-out” power or the power to call out the armed forces to quell any rebellion, invasion, lawless violence.
This means that the President alone has the power to order, command, deploy, and direct the armed forces in order to suppress lawless violence, rebellion, invasion. But of course he can delegate the operational details to the defense secretary or the chief of staff.
But based on this president’s life history, maybe he has experience in security matters and would probably like to see through the Zamboanga crisis first-hand with minimal damage to civilian life and property.
(The other commander-in-chief powers have been discussed here last week: the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus subject to constitutional limits and the power to declare martial law subject to the same limits. )
What about the so-called “emergency powers”? What are those?
Only Congress can grant the President extraordinary powers under a state of emergency which Congress declares: In particular:
1.In times of war or a national emergency, Congress by resolution may grant the President emergency powers, such as the take-over of public utilities.
If the President on his own declares a state of emergency, that presidential declaration does not confer any extraordinary powers on him.
2.The second so-called emergency power (actually, it’s the first in the emergency powers clause Constitution) is dire. You don’t want it. They are war powers. As follows: Only Congress can declare a state of war by a vote of two-thirds of both Houses in joint session voting separately (that is: 2/3 vote of the lower House and 2/3 vote of the Senate). Only after such declaration of a state of war can the President exercise “war powers”.
Our generation has never seen a congressional declaration of war and God forbid that we do. Examples of war powers are: punishing, based on a compulsory conscription law, those who refuse to heed the draft to the armed forces; directing the use of communication facilities and other utilities for national defense; directing and controlling the transport of basic commodities like rice and food stuff; controlling news media content for defense purposes; etc.
We’re good with basic commander-in-chief calling-out powers. The mopping up operations is on-going.
The plight of more than a hundred thousand displaced civilians need to be addressed urgently, though.