Mindanao martial law extension: SC justice questions existence of rebellion
MANILA, Philippines – How does an Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) member accidentally shooting a fellow member because of poor aim support the contention that rebellion persists in Mindanao, a Supreme Court Associate Justice asked the military on Tuesday.
To recall, the Supreme Court has ordered the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to provide them a copy of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) report which was submitted to Congress to support President Rodrigo Duterte’s request of another year-long extension of martial law.
Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa is scrutinizing the report submitted to the high court.
He said that of the numerous incidents in Mindanao that were mentioned in the report, only seven are “exemplars” where the perpetrators have been identified and motives were established.
Among the “exemplars” mentioned include an ASG member shooting a fellow member because of poor aim, harassment incident in Basilan because of a family feud, kidnapping of a pump boat driver in Sabah.
There are also eight incidents that were either politically motivated or because of a family feud.
“How do [these incidents] support the contention that rebellion persists,” Caguioa asked.
On the same report, Caguioa noted that more than half of the 66 incidents mentioned either failed to identify the perpetrators or simply indicated “believed to be ASG,” “suspected ASG” or “undetermined number of ASG.”
“If these reports do not identify the perpetrators, then what is the basis for the report to say that these acts are attributable to the ASG,” Caguioa asked.
In a separate military paper, 49 incidents did not indicate any motive or motive has yet to be established.
“The court would want you to indicate if the motive for these incidents has since been determined and what is the basis for this conclusion,” Caguioa added.
He added that there are other incidents where armed groups–Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), ASG appeared to be fighting each other.
“Please explain how these encounters amongst them constitute proof of a persisting rebellion,” Caguioa added.
The magistrate told the OSG and the military to update the reports that they have submitted to them and indicate if the cited incidents have been resolved and connect it to the supposed existing rebellion in the south.
Oral argument is still ongoing. /gsg/ac
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