The Supreme Court (SC) on Thursday ordered judges and court personnel in Marawi City to hold temporary office in nearby Iligan City, Lanao del Norte.
The order of the High Court came as armed clashes continued between government troops and members of the Maute Group affiliated with the Islamic State or IS in the predominantly Muslim capital of Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
This was contained in a memorandum from Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez to Wenida Papandayan, executive judge of Marawi City Regional Trial Court (RTC).
Marquez said in view of the armed conflict in Marawi City, court trials must continue but shall be done by a skeletal force in Iligan City and other safe areas.
The SC Administrator pointed out that the “the perilous situation” in Marawi is no reason for suspending the courts’ operations in the city.
The Constitution provides that martial law does not suspend such operations.
Military rule was imposed on Marawi City and the rest of Mindanao on May 23 as a result of a terrorist attack on the city on the same date.
Marquez said the Marawi courts should maintain a skeletal force at the Iligan City Hall of Justice and conduct court matters there.
“You are hereby directed to hold temporary office with [a skeletal]force at the Iligan City Hall of Justice and conduct the courts’ usual business as practicable,” he added.
Marquez told Papandayan to coordinate with Iligan City RTC Executive Judge Anisah Umpa regarding the temporary arrangement.
Iligan is roughly an hour-long drive from Marawi.