3rd petitioner vs martial law: SC must define it
What really is martial law?
Etta Rosales, former chairperson of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), on Friday asked the Supreme Court to answer this critical question in a 33-page petition that challenged the constitutional basis for the yearlong extension of military rule in Mindanao.
Rosales’ petition was the third legal action brought before the high court that questioned President Duterte’s decision to extend martial law in Mindanao until Dec. 31.
“The basic problem with the jurisprudence of the Supreme Court right now is that (it has) allowed the President to exercise martial law powers, but (the magistrates) have not defined what martial law is all about,” said Rosales’ counsel, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay.
“And because (the high court) has not defined martial law, you have these (questions) on what the President can do, what the military can do, and the real purpose of martial law,” Hilbay added.
The Palace “welcome(s) the filing of the suit because that is also a right of any citizen under the 1987 Constitution,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing in Malaybalay City on Friday.
Legal, factual basis
But the President’s decision to extend martial law for a year “enjoys an overwhelming presumption of constitutionality, given that both the executive and the legislative branches of government have found both legal and factual basis for (it),” Roque said.
In asking the magistrates to void the extension of martial law in Mindanao, Rosales said the high court had already ruled that the President’s “extraordinary power to declare martial law may be exercised only when there is actual invasion or rebellion and public safety requires it.”
“This is so because martial law is the law for the theater of war, where there is a need to supplant or supplement civilian law with military law,” Rosales said.
The former CHR chair also disputed claims that Mindanao residents welcomed the President’s extension of martial law even after the military had ended the five-month occupation of Marawi City by the Islamic State-allied Maute terror group.
In fact, Rosales said, a recent survey showed that more than 60 percent of Filipinos were not supportive of Mr. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, which placed Mindanao under military rule and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Hilbay meanwhile sought the tribunal’s permission for him to participate in the oral arguments next week on the two similar petitions filed by opposition lawmakers and members of the Makabayan bloc.
Earlier, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and militant lawmakers filed separate petitions questioning the legal basis for the extension of martial law.
In its petition, the Makabayan bloc accused Mr. Duterte, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III of “hav(ing) entered into an unholy alliance” by “peddling imagined fears of the persistence of enemies (that) the government had claimed to have already vanquished.”
The government itself, said petitioner Carlos Zarate of the Bayan Muna party-list group, had admitted that the Maute group was already on the run.
The irony, Zarate said, was that when the battle in Marawi was raging, Congress only extended martial law for five months.
“Now that the battle in Marawi was over, Congress extends (martial law) by one year. This is absurd,” he said. —WITH A REPORT FROM ALLAN NAWAL