Lagman on martial law re-extension: 'SC justices can be supreme even in error'
MANILA, Philippines – Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman criticized the 10 associate justices who voted in favor of upholding the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s re-extension of martial law in Mindanao to December 2010, noting that “majority of the Supreme Court justices can be supreme even in their error.”
In a vote of 10-5, the High Court declared constitutional the Resolution of both Houses Number 4, which approved Duterte’s request to extend martial and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire island under December 2018.
“When the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court fall in cadence with the President and the Congress in violating the Constitution, then the country is abandoned in the quagmire of tripartite derogation of the people’s civil liberties,” said Lagman.
The year-long extension, granted during joint session on December 13, 2017, is longer than the original limit of 2 months, which was extended for another 5 months. Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law following Islamic State-affiliated groups’ attempt to take over the city of Marawi in late May 2017.
Lagman and members of the House opposition bloc filed a petition before the High Court in December 2017, nearly two weeks after Congress approved the extension.
The lawmaker said the Supreme Court’s decision would ultimately “embolden” Duterte in “flaunting the rule of law because he can seek refuge behind the robes of majority of the Supreme Court justices.”
Lagman insisted that “from all constitutional angles,” Duterte’s request to extend martial rue and Congress’ subsequent approval has no basis. Repeating his earlier arguments, Lagman pointed out that no less than the military had said that the leaders and members of the two local terror groups – the Maute and Abu Sayyaf – had already been decimated.
It was the threat of these groups, and the possible spillover of violence to areas outside of Marawi that prompted the initial declaration of martial law.
In their request for an extension, officials cited the ongoing threat in the area and the terror groups’ attempts to increase their numbers and plan other attacks. Duterte also cited the threat of communist rebel forces in asking for the extension.
Lagman also noted that 4 of the 10 justices who voted in favor of the extension are appointees of Duterte.
“Another four of the concurring justices are possible contenders to replace Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno who is facing impeachment proceedings,” he added. – Rappler.com