Gutoc to SC justices: Undoing Mindanao martial law ‘a vote of conscience’
MANILA, Philippines — A Marawi civic leader has urged Supreme Court (SC) magistrates for “a vote of conscience” to invalidate the extension of martial law in Mindanao until end of this year.
Samira Gutoc said such vote of SC justices would be “for those who continue to live in fear” in the southern region, as she expressed her support to the petition of opposition lawmakers filed last week seeking to nullify the third martial law extension in Mindanao.
“Hangga’t may martial law, hinding-hindi natin makakamit ang tunay na kapayapaan at kalayaan sa Mindanao,” pointed out Gutoc, an opposition senatorial candidate in the upcoming elections in May.
“Hindi na kailangang patagalin ang martial law sa rehiyon dahil gobyerno na mismo ang nagsabing natupok na nila ang terrorismong nagdulot ng krisis sa Marawi. Panahon na upang mabuhay ang mga kababayan natin sa Mindanaonang walang takot at peligro,” added the long-time community organizer.
Last Friday, seven opposition members of the House of Representatives asked the SC to “void as unconstitutional” the third extension of martial law in Mindanao, arguing that the extension “mocked” the 1987 Constitution since “rebellion does not exist and persist in Mindanao as public safety there is not imperiled.”
READ: Solons want SC to invalidate third martial law extension in Mindanao | House opposition asks SC to void Mindanao martial law extension
On December 12, 2018, Congress — for the third time — granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year despite protests by human rights groups and Filipinos from Mindanao.
Gutoc warned against the effects of prolonged military occupation in conflict areas.
“Marami pa rin sa ating mga kababayan ang hindi nakakabalik sa kanilang mga tahanan. May mga balita pa rin ng diskriminasyon at abuso sa mga miyembro ng indigenous communities. Hindi dapat natin hayaang maging normal ang takot at karahasan sa rehiyon,” explained Gutoc, who is a former spokesperson of the Ranao Rescue team that led relief operations and rescue missions at the height of the Marawi siege.
“Better employment opportunities, facilities for health and education, a place of worship – these are the things the Maranaws need most right now,” she added.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier downplayed the petition before the SC as “faulty” and “intellectually-challenged.”
“We are confident that the continuing rebellion in Mindanao as well the demands of public safety requires the continued existence of martial law in that area, and the Supreme Court will upheld its continued imposition,” he added.
Meanwhile, one of the petitioners, Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin, said the dismissive attitude of Malacañang shows its “arrogance and disregard of establishing the factual and constitutional basis of martial law.”
Villarin reminded Panelo that the 1987 Constitution wants a “restrictive duration” of martial law and “demands factual basis, not conjectures made up to justify its imposition.”
“It‘s common sense to inquire and verify with the military who are the rebels and if charges have been filed against them… From what we see, it’s Malacañang who exhibits such intellectual depravity,” he added. /kga
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.