Petition against martial law bound for the waste basket, says Aguirre
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II downplayed the petition filed by the minority bloc, which sought to nullify Proclamation No. 216 declaring a 60-day martial law in Mindanao.
“Waste basket lang yan [martial law petition],” Aguirre told reporters Monday, saying “the President does not need advice from anybody.”
The Justice Chief said the President, based on his own assessment, can even declare martial law if he feels it is necessary.
“There is no need for an intelligence report or any capable recommendation from the Secretary of National Defense. It [declaring martial law] is his prerogative,” Aguirre said.
In a 28-page petition to the Supreme Court, opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the proclamation of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus were unjustified and lacked sufficient factual basis.
Aside from Lagman, other petitioners include Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice.
“The President’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao has no sufficient factual basis as it is feebly based on mostly contrived and/or inaccurate facts, self-serving speculations, enumeration of distant occurrences and mere conclusions of fact and law on the purported existence of ‘rebellion or invasion’,” the petitioners said.
The lawmakers said both leadership of the House of Representatives and the Senate failed to comply with their constitutional mandate to vote jointly on whether or not to revoke the President’s declaration.
Thus, the petitioners said, it has no other recourse but to ask the high court to take jurisdiction and review the factual basis for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
Under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, the President may declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus only “in case of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it.”
The same section also grants special jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to review the “sufficiency of the factual basis” of such declaration or suspension.
The petitioners branded as “inaccurate, simulated, false and hyperbolic” the facts contained in Proclamation No. 216 and the report submitted by the President in the Senate and House of Representatives justifying the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
They further claimed that Proclamation No. 216 is “flawed” as it was imposed without consultation and recommendation from officials of the Department of National Defense or the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Meanwhile, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said he is ready to defend Proclamation No. 216 and expressed confidence that the petition will be dismissed by the Supreme Court.
“Who are these rabble-rousers to say that there is no factual basis for the declaration of martial law?” Calida said in a statement.
“Their denial that there is an ongoing rebellion by the combined forces of the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf, heightened by the participation of foreign jihadists to make Mindanao a caliphate of ISIS, is like saying that the sun does not rise from the east. This is a symptom of psychosis since they are detached from reality,” he said./ac
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