REP. Edcel Lagman of Albay is not giving up the fight as he vowed to go the Supreme Court next week to question the congressional vote allowing President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law until yearend.
“The discretion of Congress to fix the period of the extension is not absolute. These safeguards will be eroded by an inordinately long extension,” Lagman told The Manila Times on Sunday, a day after a special joint session of the Senate and House of Representatives, extended martial law in Mindanao until December 31, 2017 with a vote of 261-18.
“We will question it before the Supreme Court as soon as possible. Towards the end of the week, the petition can be filed. The SC (Supreme Court) can limit the duration of the extension because under the Constitution, the original declaration of martial law is only for a limited period of 60 days. It stands to reason that any extension should not exceed the original period of 60 days,” Lagman added.
Lagman said the “supermajority” in the Senate, as well as in the House, could be legally and politically wrong because the Constitution has provided the conditions under which the President could initially declare martial law for 60 days — rebellion, invasion, or when public safety requires it.
Lagman and other oppositors to an extended martial law have claimed that the government has failed to prove the existence of any of the conditions.
President Duterte declared martial law last May 23 to suppress a rebellion led by the Maute group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Government authorities have claimed that the Islamic State-linked Maute was aiming to establish a caliphate in the south with Islamist leader Isnilon Hapilon as its emir.
Duterte, in his request for an extension, cited that not only was there a threat of rebellion from the Maute group but from the Abu Sayyaf, Ansarul Khilafah Philippines and Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), as well.