President Rodrigo Duterte’s third extension of martial law in Mindanao is once again being challenged before the Supreme Court.
A group of opposition lawmakers comprised of Reps. Carlos Zarate (Bayan Muna partylist), Emmi De Jesus and Arlene Brosas (Gabriela partylist), Ariel Casilao (Anakpawis partylist), Antonio Tinio and France Castro (ACT Teachers partylist) and Sarah Elago (Kabataan partylist) asked the SC on Wednesday, January 16, to declare Duterte’s year-long extension of martial law in the southern region as unconstitutional.
The lawmakers’ argument says that the government “has failed to allege and prove that this specific public safety requirement has been fulfilled.”
They also recalled Duterte saying that the narration of factual averments “merely illustrates in general terms the continuing rebellion in Mindanao” in his letter to the Congress requesting for the extension.
They said a more detailed report was promised by the President in order to support their statement of continuing rebellion in Mindanao but when they convened for a special joint session, “no such detailed report or any other report was given to the members of Congress.”
The incidents that supposedly show rebellion, they argued, do not endanger public safety as a ground to impose martial law under the Constitution.
“The letter does not allege that the situation has deteriorated that the civilian government no longer functions effectively requiring the exercise of the powers of martial rule to ensure public safety,” they added.
Oral arguments set next week
Lagman’s petition against martial law extension for oral arguments has been set on January 22 and 23 by the SC en banc.
Representing the government respondents, Solicitor General Jose Calida on Tuesday, January 15, filed his comment on the petition.
He insisted that rebellion still exists, saying “the issue of whether such rebellion persists had been determined by the executive department and approved by the legislative department, two of the three co-equal branches of the government
Meanwhile, the SC moved to implead both Houses of the Congress in the petition filed by Lagman as well as ordered the Congress to file its answer on the pending plea within five days.
The court said that while it would dispense with the preliminary conference of the case initially set on Thursday, January 17, the oral arguments would push through next week.