Lumad teachers, student file 4th petition to declare martial law unconstitutional
MANILA, Philippines — Three Lumad teachers and a student from the Save Our Schools network on Wednesday have joined the clamor for the Supreme Court to declare the third extension of martial law in Mindanao as unconstitutional.
The petitioners — Lumad teachers Rius Valle, Josea Mae Palomo and Jeany Rose Hayahay; and a student of legal age Rorelyn Mandacawan — say that martial law only contributed to the abuses by state security forces.
They are represented by lawyers from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) and the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP).
This is the fourth petition against martial law extension; the first was filed by residents from Mindanao.
The petitioners said they have witnessed alleged military excesses during martial law in the region.
Due to these alleged excesses, they said they were forced to relocate to Metro Manila due to security concerns. Hayahay, for one, said that her mother was forcibly abducted for 18 days last October by seven masked armed men, who she claimed was part of the Army’s 71st Infantry Battalion.
Hayahay said her mother was taken to force her into admitting that she is a member of the New People’s Army and to surrender to the government.
She added that after martial law was implemented in Mindanao, harassment by military personnel increased to the point that they even want to padlock their Lumad schools.
“Nung nag martial law, doon na sila mismo nagkakampo sa komunidad at saka binabataan nila at hinaharass pati ang eskuwelahan namin, puwersahang isinasarado,” she told reporters.
(When they implemented martial law, they set up camp in the community and started harassing us. Our school was even forced to close.)
In their petition, they pointed out that such acts by government authorities were the result of the “undefined and unchecked powers” given to the military under martial law.
“Without clear standards and parameters, wholesale acceptance of the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President’s proclamation of martial law will result in more instances of Red tagging, harassment, intimidation and militarization,” the petitioners said.
Earlier, the high court consolidated the first three petitions against the third extension of Martial Law.
Named respondents in the petition are Senate President Vicente “Tito”Sotto III, House Speaker Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, AFP Chief of Staff Benjamin Madrigal Jr., and PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde. /ee
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