MANILA – Solicitor General Jose Calida urged opposition lawmakers from the House “Magnificent 7” bloc who filed a petition to stop the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao to concede to the Supreme Court’s ruling declaring President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law declaration as constitutional.
“The extension of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao for one year is not only factual but more importantly, compelling,” Calida said in a statement on Sunday.
The petitioners, led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the re-extension pending adjudication of their petition.
The SC en banc on Friday directed respondents officials from the Executive and Legislative to comment on the Lagman petition in 10 days, but did not issue a TRO as the martial law declaration took effect January 1.
The other petitioners are Representatives Tomasito Villarin, Edgar Erice, Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr., Gary Alejano and Emmanuel Billones.
In their petition, the lawmakers asked why the year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao was “inordinately longer” than the original proclamation that limited the declaration to only 60 days.
“A full year re-extension, aside from being factually unwarranted, is oppressively long and patently unconstitutional,” the petitioners said.
CALIDA: CHARTER DOES NOT LIMIT TO 60 DAYS
“He should concede that the Supreme Court already decided that the martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus covered the entire Mindanao,” Calida said, referring to Lagman.
Calida said there was no provision in the 1987 Constitution that limits the period of extension to only 60 days.
“There is no provision in the Constitution that limits the period of extension to 60 days only. “The only criteria: that the invasion of rebellion shall persist and that public safety requires it,” Calida added.
“The 1987 Constitution vested Congress with the authority to extend the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus for a period to be determined by it,” said Calida.
“This is a political question as it is a controversy which revolves around policy choices and value determinations constitutionally committed to the executive or legislative branches for resolution,” he added.
Defending the extension of the iron rule, Calida called the argument of the opposition lawmakers “asinine,” or in other words, “stupid.”
“The argument that this rebellion can be quelled in 60 days is asinine,” he said.
While Marawi City was already liberated by the state troops last October, Calida said there was still an “on-going” rebellion in Mindanao.
“In fact, the rebellion staged by various secessionists, jihadists, terrorists and communist groups in various places in Mindanao has been festering for several decades now. The argument that this rebellion can be quelled in 60 days is asinine,” Calida said.
“Anyone who doubts the necessity of the extension should visit the various strongholds of the rebellious groups scattered all over Mindanao and see for himself their awesome armaments and the cadres of combatants whose avowed missions are to overthrow the government or to carve out provinces away from the sovereignty of the Philippines,” he added.
Calida also dared the opposition lawmakers to visit the strongholds of the rebel groups to see for themselves the “awesome armaments” and the “cadres of combatants” to be used to bring down the government.
In a two-page order issued Friday, the SC gave the respondents — represented by Solicitor General Jose Calida — 10 days to comment on the petition for a temporary restraining order against the extension.
The respondents were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
“The petition appears to be sufficient in form and substance” and consequently required the respondents Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, among others, to “comment on the petition and the prayer for temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from notice hereof,” the SC said.
In a 240-27 vote, both chambers of Congress voted to approve Duterte’s request to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018.
Calida explained that Congress’ vote declaring the extension as valid was a political process. “The congressional imprimatur on the validity of the extension is a political question that has been resolved by the legislature,” the solicitor general said.
Earlier this month, the government’s top lawyer scored legal victories in the Supreme Court after a majority of the justices voted in favor of Duterte’s declaration of martial law and affirmed their decision with finality.
The SC’s 82-page landmark decision, penned by Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo, said that the 1987 Constitution grants Duterte the prerogative to put any part of the country under martial rule.
“There is no constitutional edict that martial law should be confined only in the particular place where the armed public uprising actually transpired,” the SC declared.