Opposition to question SC over Marawi rebellion

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THE motion for reconsideration set to be filed by opposition lawmakers to contest the Supreme Court’s July 4 ruling upholding President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law over the entire island of Mindanao will assert that there was no basis for anchoring the declaration on the supposed existence of rebellion.

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Rep. Teodoro Baguilat Jr. of Ifugao said in a radio interview that opposition lawmakers, petitioners in the challenge recently junked by the High Court, were set to file a motion for reconsideration this week.

“The main issue here is [whether]the President had enough information to declare martial law in the whole of Mindanao, particularly on the [existence of]rebellion. That is the focal point here because the Supreme Court, in its ruling, said that it is not important whether the President’s information is true or enough,” Baguilat said.

“The Supreme Court should explain why it found enough grounds to say that there is rebellion in Mindanao and, thus, the need to declare martial law. As far as we are concerned, the declaration based on rebellion [is]based on scant, if not false information,” Baguilat added.

Duterte declared martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao on May 23 through Proclamation 216, in response to the siege of Marawi City by members of the Maute Group.

The lawmaker said he was taken aback when the ruling upheld the declaration of martial law over the entire island of Mindanao and not just in Lanao del Sur province, where government troops are locked in an armed conflict with the Islamic State-linked Maute group.

“Had the martial law been limited to Lanao del Sur, we can live with that. And so we were surprised that the entire declaration was deemed legal. If the martial law declaration in Mindanao is baseless, then the Supreme Court could void the martial law declaration in Mindanao and limit it to Lanao del Sur instead,” he maintained.

Baguilat added, “We can’t give up on this because there are a lot of points in the ruling that can be contested under the [motion]. A lot of people are emotional because we want to defeat Maute, and so there is this supposed need to declare martial law. But we have to explain to our people that declaring martial law is not simple as that and eradicating terrorism or quelling military uprising can be addressed with regular presidential authority.”

He stressed that the President should not be authorized to declare martial law based on false information.

“Let’s go back to the start. This Marawi incident happened because there was an unsuccessful military operation aimed at arresting Isnilon Hapilon who is the Maute leader. There was no statement on Maute’s part that they want to take Marawi or Lanao off Philippine territory. Given such, there’s no rebellion there,” the lawmaker said.

The martial law proclamation in Mindanao will end on July 22.

Senators open to extending martial law
Some senators expressed belief on Sunday that President Duterte would not have difficulty in getting Congress’ approval to extend martial law in Mindanao.

Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto 3rd said he would not object to a martial law extension as long as the situation warranted such move.

Sen. Francis Escudero said the Executive branch must show that the problem was still subsisting and that martial law was still needed to address it.

For Sen. Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito, it would be better if senators would again be briefed by security officials on the situation in Marawi, to get a better grasp and understanding of the situation on the ground.

“But since there have been no atrocities or any human rights violations committed since imposition of martial law, it will be easier to justify extension if needed,” he added.

Senators Panfilo Lacson and Juan Edgardo Angara said their positions would depend on how security officials would present their arguments before Congress.

“It will largely depend on how the security officials of the government will present their case to the Congress, notwithstanding the overwhelming number of allies the President has in both Houses,” said Lacson.

WITH JEFFERSON ANTIPORDA

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