Supreme Court upholds martial law in Mindanao
THE Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the validity of Proclamation 216 or President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao.
During Tuesday’s en banc (full court) session, the high court, voting 11-3-1, dismissed the petitions filed by House of Representatives’ minority bloc, residents of Mindanao and women from Marawi.
“The Court dismissed the petitions by a vote of 11 of its members,” the high court said.
Eleven Justices affirmed the martial law proclamation in the entire Mindanao while three — Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa — want martial law confined in Marawi. Associate Justice Marvic Leonen was the lone dissenter.
The ruling immediately drew “strong support” from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) – Cebu province chapter.
Lawyer Mundlyn Misal–Martin, the chapter’s president, said in a text message to Cebu Daily News that the ruling allows the government to “continue their operations against the terrorist with legal basis, and ultimately on its act in eliminating the menace of any terrorist activity and thereafter, rehabilitation of the affected areas.”
The decision was issued on the 43rd day of the declaration of martial law.
Duterte, on May 23, placed the entire Mindanao under martial law following the attack of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group.
The battle between government forces and the extremists continues with more than 400 dead and thousands displaced.
High Court’s Information Chief Theodore Te said all the 15 justices have submitted their respective opinion on the matter whether concurring or dissenting.
The President earlier said he would adhere to the decision of the SC on his proclamation.
The first of the three petitions against martial law was filed last June 5 by the minority bloc from the House of Representatives led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman followed days later by similar pleas filed by a group led by Lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat and the group of women from Marawi led by Norkaya Mohamad. Petitioners argued that the President’s declaration lacked sufficient factual basis.
The high court’s ruling was the second time to address martial law petitions under the 1987 Constitution.
The last time the high court has taken such a contentious issue was in 2012 when it dismissed the seven petitions questioning the legality of the martial law proclamation of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo in 2009.
The high court dismissed the petitions not on any constitutional issue raised by the petitioners but on the ground of being moot and academic.
At least two Cebu City officials, meanwhile, likewise backed the high court’s decision.
Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, a lawyer and former head of the Office of the Ombudsman in the Visayas, welcomed the Supreme Court’s decision
upholding the constitutionality of the martial law declaration in Mindanao.
“It is constitutional. The provisions of the Constitution are very clear that in case of insurgency, presence of eminent danger, terrorist activities (martial law can be declared),” said Labella.
He added: “I am happy that the Supreme Court has seen the wisdom of the President in declaring martial law.”
Councilor Raymond Garcia, also a lawyer, also believed that placing Mindanao under martial law is necessary until Marawi is completely freed of terrorism.
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