Opposition lawmakers ask SC to void 3rd Mindanao martial law extension

Mara Cepeda
Opposition lawmakers ask SC to void 3rd Mindanao martial law extension
The opposition bloc in the House of Representatives tell the High Court that the extension of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2019 'mocks' the 1987 Constitution

MANILA, Philippines – Seven lawmakers from the opposition bloc have asked the Supreme Court (SC) to junk the third extension of the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

On Friday, January 4, the following legislators filed their petition seeking to declare the 3rd extension of martial rule as well as the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the southern island as unconstitutional:

  • Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman
  • Akbayan Representative Tom Villarin
  • Ifugao Representative Teddy Baguilat Jr
  • Caloocan City 2nd District Representative Edgar Erice
  • Magdalo Representative Gary Alejano
  • Quezon City 6th District Representative Jose Christopher Belmonte
  • Dinagat Islands Representative Kaka Bag-ao

The group believes Resolution of Both Houses 16, which granted President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to Congress to extend martial law for a third time on December 12, 2018, until end of December 2019, “mocks” the 1987 Constitution.

Lagman said in a statement on Friday that public safety in Mindanao is “not imperiled” because rebellion “does not exist and persist.”  

Lagman reiterated what opposition legislators had raised during the joint session in December: that there must be an actual, ongoing armed uprising against the government to justify martial law. 

The congressman said the President still has not submitted a detailed report of the security status in Mindanao, saying Duterte’s letter to Congress had only “generalized” terms. 

Lagman also said the government was already able to achieve its goal for imposing martial law Mindanao when it ended the Marawi siege and defeated the Maute Group and a faction of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), following Duterte’s announcement in October 2017 that the war-torn city is already liberated from terrorists. 

Lagman said that by extending martial law to December 31, 2019, the extension period would reach a total of 891 days.

“A series of long extensions makes the duration of martial law in virtual perpetuity,“ said Lagman.

In justifying his request for a third extension, Duterte said that despite the gains, “rebellion still persists in Mindanao and that the public safety requires the continuation of martial law in the whole of Mindanao.”  Mindanaoan lawmakers shared this sentiment.

The President cited the New People’s Army, terrorist groups such as the ASG, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Daulah Islamiyah, and other terrorists “which seek to promote global rebellion.” 

Lagman’s bloc previously tried to stop the second extension of the Mindanao martial law, but the SC junked their petition.