SolGen asks SC to dismiss petition vs martial law extension
MANILA, Philippines —Solicitor General Jose Calida has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss the petition filed by opposition lawmakers against the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a 50-page comment filed Tuesday, Calida said the petition filed by the ‘Magnificent 7’ in Congress lacks merit.
Calida pointed out that assessment made by the military and the police showed that rebellion — a key requirement for declaring martial law under the Constitution — persists in Mindanao.
“Daesh-inspired groups have shifted their strategy from establishing a Wilayat to global insurgency or rebellion” and that “they continue their recruitment and radicalization activities teaching their new members how to launch deadlier attacks and to sow chaos and instability that will extremely endanger the public,” Calida said.
“Based on the AFP’s end of first semester data, the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has a total of 424 members with 473 firearms. They are scattered all over Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga, covering 138 barangays,” Calida told the high court.
He added that government security forces cited that the “Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has 264 members with 254 firearms and affecting 50 barangays. The DI has a reach of 16 barangays and is composed of 59 members of the Maute group with 61 firearms, 6 members of the MaguidGgroup with 10 firearms, and 85 members of the Turaifie Group with 20 firearms. The total barangays affected are 204.”
The lead government lawyer added that there is also a “consistent influx of foreign terrorists in the country.”
He said these foreign terrorists are conducting trainings for local terrorist fighters, specifically for “making improvised explosive devices and motivating locals to serve as suicide bombers.”
“In the present case, it is apparent that the NPA continues to rise publicly and take up arms against the Government. From January 1 to December 31, 2018, there have been a total of 369 NPA-initiated violent incidents. 193 of these were committed in Mindanao alone,” he said, adding that another year of martial law will ensure safety in the south.
Calida said the argument of petitioners that martial law already served its purpose when the Marawi siege ended was already rebutted by the High Court in its earlier ruling on the second extension of the proclamation.
“The Honorable court recognized the fact that the attack on Marawi City has spilled over to other areas in Mindanao and has spurred attacks from other rebel and terrorist groups… As already discussed, the factual circumstances which founded the basis for the second extension of martial law adopted by Congress through the resolution of both Houses no. 4 on December 13, 2017, still exist and continuously pose a threat to the peace and order situation in Mindanao,” he pointed out.
The Court is set to hear the case in oral arguments set for January 22 and 23. /ee
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