MANILA, Philippines — One of the opposition lawmakers who have asked the Supreme Court to revoke President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law over Mindanao blasted Solicitor General Jose Calida for “badmouthing” them and advised him to carefully study their petition.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said Calida, who called the petitioners “rabble rousers” and “psychotics,” was demeaning his office.
“If Calida has not read the 30-page petition or has nothing yet to say (about) its merits, he should hold his tongue and study the case seriously,” Lagman said in a statement.
“The petitioners’ well-reasoned petition contains legal and factual verities, not psychotic perorations,” he added.
The petition filed by Lagman with Representatives Teddy Baguilat Jr., Edgar Erice, Emmanuel Billones, Tom Villarin and Gary Alejano asks the high court to nullify Proclamation 216, which Duterte signed while on an official visit to Russia soon after clashes broke out in Marawi City between government forces and gunmen from the Maute group on May 23.
The original proclamation invoked “rebellion” as a justification for martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. However, Calida and other government officials have since added what they describe as an “invasion” by foreign extremists to the reasons for martial law.
While acknowledging that the Constitution does not specifically require any recommendation or consultation prior to the President’s declaration of martial law, Lagman said “it is obvious and imperative that the exercise of this extraordinary emergency power should be preceded by appropriate recommendation from and thorough consultation with the ranking defense and military officials.”
“These did not happen as admitted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and in fact no such recommendation and consultation were mentioned in Proclamation No. 216,” he said.
He also said chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo’s description of the petition as “black propaganda” should be “disregarded as a stereotypical reaction by apologists of the President.”
Lagman said the records of the lawmaker-petitioners show them as “vigilant and hardworking lawmakers who vigorously protect the independence of the legislature, safeguard the civil liberties of the people and actively participate in the debates on important legislation.”
“In fact, no one among them staged the usual photo opportunity dramatizing the filing of the petition before the high court,” he added.