MANILA – The consolidated petitions calling for junking the recent martial law declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte covering the whole of Mindanao were deemed Monday as having been submitted for resolution.
The May 23 martial law declaration was triggered by the violent standoff in Marawi City sparked by the resistance put up by followers of the terrorist Maute Group to an attempt by government forces to serve a warrant of arrest on Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Isnilon Hapilon, who had ostensibly gone to the Islamic City of Marawi to join forces there with Maute in trying to stake a “wilayat” or so-called province of the Middle East terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Mindanao and, by inference, Southeast Asia.
On Monday (June 19), the Office of the Solicitor General, the government’s highest lawyer, and the rest of the petitioners, including Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, submitted their respective referendums.
In his memorandum, Solicitor General Jose Calida argued that the declaration of martial law was needed and justified. The petitioners stressed the point that what happened in Marawi did not constitute rebellion but was
The OSG noted that the opposing petitioners failed to prove there was abuse of authority by the President in exercising his martial law powers, or even substantiate their contention that there was no factual basis for doing so.
‘No need for ML, troops can stay in Marawi’
In the memorandum submitted to the Supreme Court, Lagman said confronting and defeating the Maute group does not need the imposition of martial law where there is no actual “invasion or rebellion” when the public safety requires such imposition or suspension and when there is no sufficient factual basis for the same.”
“Moreover, the regime of martial law can drastically result in abuses, atrocities, repression and curtailment of human rights and civil liberties as was the experience during the martial law regime of President Marcos,” he added.
Lagman, together with Reps. Gary Alejano, Tom Villarin, Teddy Baguilat, Emmanuel Billones and Edgar Erice have filed a petition asking the Supreme Court to revoke the martial law declaration.
Magdalo partylist Representative Alejano on Monday described as “a bluff” President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that he would pull out the military from Marawi City if the Supreme Court ruled against his martial law declaration.
Several lawmakers also said that with or without the SC ruling, martial law should be lifted because of the impact of the fighting on the people.
“The President is just bluffing. Military operations can continue, which is the case in the past, even without martial law,” Alejano said.
“This is disinformation trying to deceive the people because the calling out powers of the president would not be affected by the adverse ruling of the SC,” he added.
He said Duterte’s constant mention that he would resort to martial anew if needed was a way of conditioning the mind of the people.”This is dangerous,” Alejano said.
Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said the deployment of the military to fight insurgency and terrorism are regular functions of the military.
“We should not equate martial law declaration with mobilization of troops or make it a precondition to strong counter-terrorism actions,” he said.
Baguilat also said that the troops should remain in Marawi City, even if martial law was lifted, until the city is cleared of the Maute forces and the threat is contained.
Akbayan partylist Villarin, Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao and Lagman stood firm that there was no need for martial law to contain the Maute group.
“The existing security mechanisms of the state are enough to quell the remaining threat of Maute and other terror groups,” Casilao said.
‘Let Duterte do his job protecting people’
In a related development, the OSG asked the Supreme Court to allow President Duterte “to perform his constitutional mandate of protecting the people.”
SG Calida underscored: “The Constitution declares in no uncertain terms that the prime duty of the government is to protect the people … In faithful compliance with this duty, President Duterte saw it fit to exercise his constitutional power to declare martial law.”
Calida argued that, while it is easy to brush aside the armed attacks in Marawi City and elsewhere in Mindanao as common crimes bereft of any political motive or color, “these attacks are atypical of previous terrorist activities in Mindanao.”
According to Calida, the magnitude and scope of the rebellion, and how it has endangered public safety in the entire Mindanao region, validates the need for the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
“As the survival of the State hangs in the balance, I implore the Honorable Supreme Court to sustain the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216, and allow the President to perform his constitutional mandate of protecting the people.”