SC sets new round of oral arguments on martial law

Lian Buan
SC sets new round of oral arguments on martial law
(3rd UPDATE) The oral arguments will be held on January 16 and 17

MANILA, Philippines (3rd UPDATE) – Another round of oral arguments will be held at the Supreme Court (SC) after President Rodrigo Duterte re-extended martial law in Mindanao to year-end of 2018.

The SC decided to hold oral arguments on January 16 and 17, after the magistrates met in an en banc session on Wednesday, January 10.

The SC also consolidated the petition filed by opposition lawmakers with another petition filed by the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) progressive party-list representatives and some Mindanao local leaders. Both petitions will be tackled during the oral arguments.

Opposition lawmakers asked the SC to stop the re-extension through a temporary restraining order (TRO) based on the following key grounds: 

 1. There is no actual rebellion in Mindanao to justify a re-extension.

 2. The Constitution does not allow a re-extension.

 3. Martial law “spawns violations of human rights and civil liberties.”

The so-called House “Magnificent 7,” led by Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman, also said that Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez restricted the debates during the joint session “so much so that the President’s request for extension was approved baselessly and with inordinate haste.”

You can see the summary of the first round of oral arguments held in June 2017 here.

Gov’t response

In his answer submitted to the SC, Solicitor General Jose Calida raised these key points:

1. The sufficient basis to declare martial law had already been declared by the SC to be the prerogative of the President.

2. The remnants of Islamic State-inspired groups, as well as the New People’s Army, still pose formidable threats.

3. The SC does not have the power of judicial review over a martial law extension.

The petitioners feared that the government is posturing for a martial law “in perpetuity,” but Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte would never allow that to happen.

The second petition also argued that the martial law extension lacked the factual basis required by the 1987 Constitution since the government had admitted that there is no actual rebellion in Mindanao.

The other petitioners in the second petition are Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Zarate, Gabriela Representatives Arlene Brosas and Emmi de Jesus, Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao, ACT Teachers Representative Antonio Tinio, Kabataan Representative Sarah Elago, and some Mindanao local leaders led by Lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat.

The respondents in the second petition are Pimentel, Alvarez, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces of the Philippines chief General Rey Leonardo Guerrero, and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa.

The Court gave the respondents until Saturday, January 13, to submit their comment to the petitions. –

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Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email or tweet @lianbuan.