The Supreme Court (SC) associate justice who testified against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno will handle the controversial petition that seeks to stop the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
The case filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and several others was raffled off to SC Associate Justice Noel Tijam. The lawmaker asked the high court to issue a issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao from January 1 to December 31, 2018.
In a 240-27 vote, congress voted to approve the extension of martial law sought by President Rodrigo Duterte until the end of 2018.
The other petitioners were Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice, Ifugao’s Teddy Baguilat Jr., Capiz’s Emmanuel Billones, Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, and Akbayan’s Tomasito Villarin.
In an exclusive interview with The Manila Times, Tijam said impeachment is a process enshrined under the 1987 Constitution. He added that if Sereno continues to refuse to recognize the impeachment process, it is a clear violation of the Constitution which the SC Justices are mandated to uphold and defend.
The high tribunal is on recess and will resume its en banc session on January 9.
Sereno issued a resolution, on behalf of the SC en banc, giving government officials 10 days to comment on the petition for a TRO filed by opposition lawmakers belonging to the “Magnificent 7” bloc.
Named respondents were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno, and Armed Forces Chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
The Office of the Solicitor General will represent the respondents.
The 29-page petition of the Lagman group said there is “no actual rebellion in Mindanao” to justify the re-extension of martial rule and that the Constitution requires an actual state of rebellion, not just mere threats, for such proclamation of martial rule.
“Threats of violence and terrorism by remnants of vanquished terrorist groups do not constitute a constitutional basis for extension of martial law because “imminent danger” has been deleted as a ground for imposing martial law under the 1987 Constitution,” the petitioners said.
Solicitor General Jose Calida hit back at opposition congressmen saying: “Anyone who says there is no ongoing rebellion in Mindanao is either ignorant of the factual situation there, or protective of the longest rebellion that has plagued our country.”