The Supreme Court (SC) held an executive session with the top brass of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Department of National Defense in connection with the pending case assailing the declaration of martial law in Mindanao following the attacks in Marawi City by the Maute group.

The Manila Times learned from court insiders that Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and associate justices of the high court gave their nod to the plea of Solicitor General Jose Calida for a closed-door session.

It was learned that Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año attended the closed-door session.

Lorenzana is the martial law administrator while Año is the martial law implementor, based on Proclamation 216, the martial law declaration signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 23.

Lawyers for the military and defense officials were also present in the hearing.

Calida had asked the court to hold an executive session because of the sensitivity of the issues involved, particularly on matters of national security. This will help the justices decide whether or not the declaration of martial law was valid.

Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo was tasked to thoroughly review the case and make recommendations, as well as draft the decision.

The first petition on the martial law proclamation was filed by lawmakers from the opposition led by Edcel Lagman, Tomasito Villarin, Gary Alejano, Emmanuel Billones and Teodoro Baguilat Jr.

These lawmakers argued that contrary to the claim of Malacañang, there was no invasion or rebellion that could justify President Duterte’s Proclamation 216, which also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus that effectively allowed warrantless arrests.

They said the proclamation, titled: “Declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao,” was bereft of sufficient factual basis and should be nullified.