Palace needs to justify ‘rebellion’ to extend martial law–Etta Rosales
President Rodrigo Duterte should prove that actual rebellion still exists and the public’s safety is at risk to justify the one year extension of martial law, former Human Rights Chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales told the Supreme Court Friday.
Rosales, through lawyers Florin Hilbay and Teddy Esteban Rigoroso in a petition seeking to nullify the extension of martial law in Mindanao, has reminded the high court of its duty to weigh the sufficiency of bases of Duterte’s declaration.
This is the third petition filed with the high court to nullify the martial law extension in Mindanao. Both the minority bloc from Congress led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman as well as human rights advocates and the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) maintained that there is no more need to extend the martial law especially that the government itself declared that the Marawi seige is over.
Malacañang, in its decision to extend martial law, said that there is still possibility that violence could erupt as local terrorist groups are still attempting to regroup.
Duterte, in his letter dated Dec. 8, 2017, said that the one year extension is necessary “to ensure total eradication of DAESH-inspired Da ‘awatul islamiyah Walihatui Masriq (DIWM), other like-minded local/foreign groups and the communist terrorists and their coddlers, supporters and financiers. This is so because despite the death of [Isnilon] Hapilon and the Maute brothers, the remnants of their groups have continued to rebuild their organization through the recruitment and training of new members and fighters to carry on the rebellion.”
However, Rosales, in her petition said a threat of violence is not the requisite stated under the Constitution to justify martial law.
She said, under the Constitution, a suspension of the writ of habeas corpus or the declaration of martial law can only be done in case of invasion, rebellion or when the public safety requires it.
Rosales said the same provision of the Constitution—Article VII Section 18—states that to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion, the President’s calling-out power should be exercised, meaning the military will be called upon to prevent such violence, rebellion or invasion.
In this case, however, petitioner said the government itself declared that the Marawi seige is over and the martial law has been declared to stop the possible regrouping of terror groups.
“Actual invasion or actual rebellion presupposes the existence of a theater of war that requires the imposition of military law on the civilian population. Thus, in the absence of an actual invasion or actual rebellion, necessarily, there is no factual basis for extending martial law,” Rosales said adding that allowing the extension for such reason would justify the declaration of martial for every mop-up operation by the military.
Rosales said the high court should not tolerate such government’s justification to declare martial law.
“The Honorable Court is the last institution that can prevent the misuse and ‘normalization’ of martial law for ordinary peacekeeping and governance activities,” she added.
The high court has already consolidated the first two petitions against martial law extension and set an oral argument on Jan. 16 and 17. /jpv