3 petitions challenge Martial Law declaration before SC

Jun. 10, 2017

GARRISON CITY. Scores of police officers in full combat gear patrol along Roxas Avenue in Davao City on the first day of Martial Law in Mindanao on Wednesday, May 24. President Rodrigo Duterte declared Martial Law on May 23 after a series of clashes erupted between government troops and members of the Maute in Marawi City. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Lawmakers and activists on Friday signed the third petition urging the Supreme Court to review the factual basis of President Rodrigo Duterte’s Martial Law declaration in Mindanao.

Gabriela Women’s Party Representative Arlene Brosas, who filed the petition criticized the House of Representatives for approving the ​President’s declaration without debate. In doing so, Brosas said ​C​ongress has “willfully approved the militarist solution.”

Brosas described Presidential Proclamation 216, which Duterte signed on May 23 as one policy that “sets a very dangerous precedent for the arbitrary declaration of a nationwide martial rule based on unfounded claims of rebellion and threats to public safety.”

The petition was filed by Brosas, together with other lawmakers ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane Elago, and several activist leaders namely Karapatan National Secretary General Cristina Palabay, Bagong Alyansang Makabayan Secretary General Renato Reyes, Anakabayan National Chairperson Vencer Crisostomo, and Kilusang Mayo Uno Southern Mindanao Secretary General Carlo Olalo, among others.

“The imposition of Proclamation No. 216 in the entire Mindanao is unwarranted, unjustifiable, and wholly out of proportion to the threat posed by the Maute and Abu Sayaff groups because aside from the violence in Marawi,” it said.

The petitioners challenged the constitutionality of Duterte’s declaration, saying that the president failed to “provide (i) sufficient factual basis on the existence of rebellion in the entire Mindanao and (ii) sufficient factual basis of its assertion that public safety requires the imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao.”

The petition, however, provided that should the Supreme Court find the situation in Marawi a sufficient cause for the president’s actions, it urged the high court to nullify martial law in the rest of the island not directly affected by the Marawi siege.

On Monday, opposition lawmakers led by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman filed the first petition which also urged the Supreme Court to nullify the Martial Law declaration on grounds of insufficient factual basis.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, former senator Rene Saguisag, former Commission on Elections Chair Christian Monsod, Sen. Leila de Lima, former congresswoman Loretta Ann Rosales, former Philippine Health Insurance Corp. director Alexander Padilla and law professor Rene Gorospe filed a petition urging the high court to compel congress to meet and review the martial law declaration.

At least 300 lawyers, including former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay also signed the petition.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a staunch supporter of Duterte, however, has vowed to ignore any order coming from the high court compelling them to review the martial law.

Alvarez maintained that as a co-equal branch of government, the high court cannot dictate the actions of congress.

In earlier interviews, Alvarez also announced that the House of Representatives will not convene to discuss the contents of the Duterte’s report, but will give each member a copy.

Meanwhile, Senate President Koko Pimentel has said that there is no need for the House and Senate to convene if the majority agrees with the declaration.

Pimentel is the president of Partido Demokratiko ng Pilipinas – Lakas ng Bayan, the party that Duterte joined for his presidential ticket.

Under the 1987 constitution, the president may declare martial law only for up to 60 days, where in extension may only be provided with the concurrence of congress.

After 48 hours since the declaration, the president must submit a report to the legislative bodies for concurrence. The Supreme Court may also review the factual basis of the declaration upon petition. (davaotoday.com)

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