The Supreme Court ruling upholding the legality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus (allowing warrantless arrest) in Mindanao could pave the way for a creeping authoritarian rule, anti-martial law petitioners said Tuesday.
Party-list Reps. Tomas Villarin of Akbayan and Carlos Zarate of Bayan Muna made the warning following the high court’s 11-3 vote in favor of Proclamation No. 216, which was issued following the series of attacks by the terrorist Maute group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur that began on May 23. One justice abstained from the voting.
“Duterte has earlier tagged the Mautes to be in cahoots with the drug lords. Now that he is cloaked with such authority, President Duterte might push martial law to the limits and declare a drug-induced nationwide rebellion by terror groups,” Villarin said in a statement.
“The declaration of Martial law is a decision hyped by fear and insecurity as laid to the Court after the fact. By broadening factual basis post-facto, it puts back the ‘imminent danger’ principle into the equation. This is a dangerous precedent as it goes against the safeguards of the 1987 Constitution that provides only actual rebellion or invasion as basis for a declaration,” Villarin added.
While terrorism should be met with the full force of the state, Villarin noted that the terror problem should not be used to justify expanding Duterte’s war on drugs and continuing widespread human rights violations.
Zarate, for his part, lamented that the high court ruling has made the declaration of martial law arbitrary and apparently putting people in the hands of a de facto military junta. “This may place the country in an even more dangerous position. We could expect an emboldened military and police to commit more human rights violations and further endanger the lives of our people not just in Marawi but the whole of Mindanao,” Zarate, who hails form Davao City, also hometown of President Duterte, said in a statement.
Based on the records of non-government organization Save the Children-Philippines, there are 83,525 families or 385,117 persons that have been displaced by the conflict in Marawi City as of June 28.
Of this number, 22,000 school-aged children/learners from Marawi were displaced by the continued battle between government forces and the Maute terrorists.