Lawmakers from the opposition in the House of Representatives on Monday questioned before the Supreme Court (SC) the declaration of martial law in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte.
The 31-page petition was filed by Representatives Edcel Lagman, Tomasito Villarin, Gary Alejano, Emmanuel Billones, Teodoro Brawner Baguilat Jr. and Edgar Erice.
The lawmakers said that contrary to Malacañang’s claim, there is no invasion or rebellion endangering public safety that can justify President Duterte’s issuance of Proclamation 216, which also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, effectively allowing warrantless arrests.
The petitioners maintained that the martial law declaration was bereft of sufficient factual basis and called for its nullification.
“Under the 1987 Constitution, the President may declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus only in case of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it,” they stressed.
“[Th]e alleged ‘siege’ of Marawi City was actually an armed resistance by the Maute Group to shield [Isnilon Hapilon] from capture, not to overrun Marawi and remove its allegiance from the Republic,” they added.
The chief executive declared martial law in Mindanao after the Maute group attacked Marawi City.
The lawmakers argued that the “pretended existence of rebellion and/or invasion will not serve as sufficient basis” for the declaration of martial rule and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, insisting that it is merely akin to “imminent danger,” a ground removed from the 1987 Constitution.
They also questioned the declaration because the president “acted alone,” without any recommendation from defense and military officials.
The minority block also assailed the refusal of the Senate and the House of Representatives to call for a joint session of Congress to rule on the matter.
“(They) have utterly and unconscionably reneged on their constitutional duty to vote jointly in session to determine by a majority of all the members whether or not to revoke the declaration of martial law under Proclamation No. 216,” the group said.
“The leaders of the Congress and the members of the supermajority have abandoned and forfeited the first line of review to assess, on behalf of the sovereign people whom they represent, the adequacy of the factual and legal anchorage of the President’s imposition of martial law,” it added.
Solicitor General Jose Calida however said that he is ready to defend the President’s declaration of martial law.
“Who are these rabble-rousers to say that there is no factual basis for the declaration of martial law?” Calida said in a statement.
“Their denial that there is an ongoing rebellion by the combined forces of the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf, heightened by the participation of foreign jihadists to make Mindanao a caliphate of ISIS, is like saying that the sun does not rise from the east. This is a symptom of psychosis since they are detached from reality,” he said.
“Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the President’s declaration of martial law needs the recommendation or concurrence of the Defense Secretary, or any cabinet official,” Calida added.
with JOMAR CANLAS