Lagman: Why hide martial law details from the public?
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman said on Monday, June 19, that there was nothing confidential in the presentation of Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief General Eduardo Año that was conducted privately with Supreme Court (SC) justices last Thursday, June 15.
"The personal assessment of Petitioner Lagman, who was allowed to attend the internal session and executive session of the Honorable Court, is that there was nothing confidential in the presentation that would affect national security or impair operational strategies," read the memorandum filed by Lagman before the SC on Monday.
Lagman repeated his call to the government to make public such details crucial to the proclamation of martial law. (READ: SUMMARY: SC oral arguments on martial law)
"If said respondents fail or refuse to publicly disclose the facts and data covered by their presentation, it would mean that there is paucity in the sufficiency of facts they have presented as anchorage for the assailed declaration and suspension," Lagman said.
The SC had given the 3 groups of petitioners and Solicitor General Jose Calida until June 19 to submit their memoranda, for resolution on or before July 5. On the 3rd and last day of oral arguments on petitions seeking to nullify martial law, SC justices met privately with Lorenzana and Año.
Lorenzana is the administrator of martial law, while Año is the implementer. (READ: Who's who in Duterte's martial law)
"When a party conceals a fact, it is presumed that the same is against his interest," Lagman said.
But Lorenzana told Rappler that while there may be nothing confidential in the presentation, the interpellation by justices revealed some highly classified details.
"Sa kanya siguro hindi classified. Pero sino ba ang mag-determine kung ano ang classified o hindi, 'di ba kami? (The information probably isn't classified for him. But who should determine what's classified or not? Us, right?) Remember, our troops are still fighting and dying in Marawi," Lorenzana said in a text message.
"The last thing we want is to make public our operational plans. As it is we have already made public more than the public should know," the defense chief also said.
Meanwhile, asked whether the Marawi group of petitioners joins Lagman's call to make the details public, the group's lawyer Marlon Manuel said: "No, since there is nothing new."
"[Representative Lagman] said no confidential information was divulged, other than those already discussed in [the] Solicitor General's comment. We got the same message from justices," Manuel added.
Former Bayan Muna representative Neri Colmenares, counsel for the leftist group of petitioners, has yet to respond to Rappler's request for comment. But last Thursday, Colmenares said it was unfair that his group and Manuel's group were excluded from the private briefing.
Lagman said it was the SC which decided to include only him.
In his own memorandum, Calida reiterated to the High Court that the Marawi crisis is an actual case of rebellion and that martial law is crucial to stop Islamic State-inspired groups from sowing more violence in the region.
"As the survival of the State hangs in the balance, Respondents respectfully ask this Honorable Court to sustain the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216, and allow the President to perform his constitutional mandate of protecting the people," Calida said.