(UPDATED – 5:23 p.m.) MANILA, Philippines — At least four lawmakers, a lawyers’ organization and a peasants’ group on Tuesday assailed the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding Congress’ resolution backing President Rodrigo Duterte’s move to extend martial law in Mindanao for a year.
Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman warned the high tribunal’s decision “will embolden” Duterte “in flouting the rule of law because he can seek refuge behind the robes of majority of the Supreme Court justices.”
“When the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court fall in cadence with the President and the Congress in violating the Constitution, then the country is abandoned in the quagmire of tripartite derogation of civil liberties,” the senior lawmaker said.
“(The decision shows) there is no more court of last resort, it is now the court of no resort. Motion for reconsideration is always an option, but a futile one,” added Lagman.
Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin also had a foreboding following the ruling.
“It’s an ominous sign that the Duterte administration will declare martial law nationwide. Given the decision, there’s no more stopping this administration. . . . What they want is power for life,” said Vilarin.
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano seconded. “There’s nothing now that would stop Duterte from declaring martial law in the entire country.”
For Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate the high court’s ruling was tantamount to turning a blind eye to the alleged abuses that Mindanaoans had been suffering since military rule was extended in Southern Philippines.
“This is a tragic day for the cause of human rights. The Supreme Court failed to see the suffering of Mindanaons who are victims of the military abuses due to martial law,” said Zarate.
Meanwhile, the National Union of People’s Lawyers said that while the high tribunal’s ruling was “not really totally unexpected,” it was nonetheless “somehow still unbelievable.”
NUPL said the majority of the court had “gifted the executive, especially its martial rulers, and the legislative undeserved full faith and confidence in the claim of the supposed factual basis and that its reason for being persists.”
“The discretion is so unbridled that Martial Law can be imposed anytime, anywhere, ad infinitum and effectively without limitations other than the token formalities in the Constitution,” it said.
NUPL added that “the nexus between military rule and human rights violations are not speculative.”
“When there is martial law, human rights violations follow as a matter of course. An ounce of prevention against repetition is better than a pound of cure for a violation,” the group said.
For its part, the Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) said the high court had given a “go-signal and a renewal” of the military’s license to kill.”
“The ‘Gods of Padre Faura’ have willfully turned deaf and blind on the poor seeking mercy and justice. May the fates be in our favor for all of the hell to come,” the KMP said in a statement issued Tuesday.
“If Congress is Duterte’s stamp pad, the Supreme Court is shamelessly acting as the President’s ‘judicial enabler’,” says KMP secretary-general Antonio Flores.