SC to hold oral arguments on martial law extension
The Supreme Court will again conduct an oral argument on the petitions against the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
During Wednesday’s en banc session, the high court set the oral argument for January 16 and 17.
The SC has also consolidated the two petitions filed by the minority bloc from the House of Representatives led by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman and the petition filed by human rights advocates and cause-oriented groups represented by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL).
Lagman, as well as the human rights advocates through NUPL, said that absence of an actual rebellion extending the martial law is unconstitutional as spelled out in Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.
“Threats of violence and terrorism by remnants of vanquished terrorist groups do not constitute a constitutional basis for extension of martial law because ‘imminent danger’ has been deleted as a ground for imposing martial law under the 1987 Constitution,” read a portion of Lagman et al.’s petition.
“The Constitution does not allow a series of extensions or re-extensions of a martial law proclamation, which may lead to ‘extensions in perpetuity,’” they argued.
Aside from Lagman, included as petitioners are Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, Caloocan City Rep. Edgar Erice, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr., Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones and Akbayan party-list Rep. Tom Villarin.
Meanwhile, NUPL said extension of martial law in Mindanao lacks the factual basis required by the Constitution.
“This is a violation of the Constitution which only allows the imposition of martial law when there is actual rebellion and when the operations of civilian government are substantially impaired that public safety should be preserved,” said NUPL Chairman Neri Colmenares.
“The government is functioning in Davao City and the entire country, so why replace it with martial rule?” he also asked.
They said the real targets of the martial law extension are the dissenters and members of the New People’s Army.
“The real targets here are ordinary activists and dissenters who are critical of President Duterte’s human rights record and anti-people policies such as people’s organizations, the church, media and independent government bodies. The massive human rights violations in Mindanao will be extended with the extension of martial law,” NUPL Secretary General Ephraim Cortez also said.
The high court had previously voted to affirm the constitutionality of Mr. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, which placed the entire Mindanao under martial law until Dec. 31 following the violent attack of the Islamic State-allied Maute terror group in Marawi City on May 26.
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