Carpio: It’s legally possible to extend martial law coverage nationwide
Talking of legal possibilities, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio thinks it’s possible that the martial law could eventually be extended to cover the entire country.
During Wednesday’s oral argument, Solicitor General Jose Calida said part of what prompted the Duterte administration to extend the martial law in Mindanao were the offensive operations being launched by the New People’s Army (NPA) following the cancellation of peace talks.
“Public safety inevitably requires the extension of the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao,” Calida said. “The danger and risks the Daesh-inspired local terrorist groups and the NPAs pose cannot be discounted. The extension of martial law will necessarily address the rebellion being waged by these groups, which launch attacks from areas they control inside Mindanao.”
Daesh is the Arabic language acronym for the Islamic State, also referred to as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) or the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
Calida further explained that leeway must be given to President Rodrigo Duterte in order to fully and effectively discharge his functions as commander-in-chief.
“Due deference must be made to his judgment call, which the Court has recognized is based on vital, relevant, classified and live information not ordinarily available to the public,” Calida said.
During the presentation made by the military, Maj. Gen. Fernando Trinidad, AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence, said the communist rebels had launched a total of 422 attacks in various areas, 64 of which were carried out in Mindanao. In those attacks, 47 troopers were killed and 75 others were injured. There were also 31 civilians who died in those clashes.
“CPP-NPA is nationwide,” Carpio noted. “If the President can declare martial law in Mindanao because of CPP-NPA, can the President declare martial law in the entire Philippines?”
Calida said that would not be necessary.
“But if you follow the argument that the CPP-NPA [threat] is nationwide, legally the President can declare martial law throughout the entire Philippines because there is an ongoing rebellion nationwide,” Carpio said.
“But he did not,” Calida said.
“But he can,” Carpio said.
“There is the accompanying requisite of public safety that requires it [martial law declaration],” Calida said.
Carpio asked if the first condition of an actual rebellion by the CPP-NPA had been complied with.
Calida said yes. But he added. “I believe that he will not impose martial law in the entire Philippines.”
“We are not talking of what you believe. We are talking of the possibilities, the legal possibilities,” Carpio said.
Meanwhile, Associate Justices Francis Jardeleza and Lucas Bersamin both said they were still not “sold” to the arguments raised by Calida.
According to Jardeleza, in the first petition against the proclamation of martial law, he ruled in favor of the government because he believed that the scale of the threat to public safety justified such a proclamation.
But he said: “In the scale today, I am not sure if the scale is on the same level.”
Calida argued that the Congress resolution on the one-year extension of martial law was very detailed.
Bersamin said, however, that he felt “like those words were only lifted from the documents transmitted with the President’s request.”
The justices wanted to know why the government specifically wanted a one-year extension.
“Is it a show of weakness on the part of the government that they cannot quell the rebellion in less than a year?” Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta asked.
Meanwhile, both Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and Associate Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe asked what the government intended to achieve with the martial law declaration that it could not do if only the other powers of the President would exercised.
The oral arguments ended on Wednesday afternoon with all parties ordered to submit their respective memorandum on Wednesday, Jan. 24, at 4 p.m. before the case would be submitted for resolution to meet the 30-day deadline. /atm
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