DEFENSE Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año are ready to face the Supreme Court in oral arguments on the petitions to nullify President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, the military spokesman said on Wednesday.
Lorenzana is the administrator and Año the implementor of martial law in Mindanao, which the President declared on May 23 after hostilities broke out between government forces and extremist gunmen in Marawi City.
During the “Mindanao Hour” news briefing in Malacanang, AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. said the military establishment was willing to join the oral arguments concerning Duterte’s declaration of martial law.
“We support whatever process that is currently ongoing and if we need to be resource persons elsewhere, including the Supreme Court, we will be there,” Padilla told reporters.
“If [they are]requested by the Supreme Court, I guess the chief of staff himself and the secretary of National Defense will be there and talk about whatever it is the justices want to clarify,” he added.
During the oral arguments on Wednesday, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno ordered Lorenzana and Año to participate in the oral arguments on the petitions asking the high court to invalidate the martial law declaration.
Sereno issued the directive following a request by petitioner Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman for Lorenzana and Año to attend the afternoon session of Wednesday’s hearing, after the top magistrate enumerated the documents that the Office of Solicitor General must submit.
Solicitor General Jose Calida, who represents the government, initially balked at the order, saying he did not see the purpose of requiring Lorenzana and Año to appear.
Calida eventually agreed to present the officials but asked that any presentations they make be in executive session, which Lagman objected to, saying that during the closed-door briefing on martial law given to the House, no classified information was divulged.
The request for an executive session will be decided on Thursday.