Supreme Court to hold oral arguments on 2019 martial law extension

MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The Supreme Court has decided to hold fresh oral arguments on the validity of re-extending martial law in Mindanao up to the end of 2019, Rappler learned from informed sources.

On Tuesday afternoon, January 8, Court Spokesperson Midas Marquez confirmed this in a news conference, saying, "The case has been set for oral arguments on January 22 and 23 at 2 pm, and there will be a preliminary conference for the parties on January 17 at 10 am."

The Court also directed the government to answer the opposition bloc's petition "within a non-extendible period of 7 days."

The 17th Congress voted 235-28-1 on December 12 to reextend President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao to yearend 2019, the 3rd extension which would stretch the proclamation to two years and 7 months if it pushes through.

Once again, the opposition bloc of the House of Representatives challenged the legality of the new extension. They filed their petition last January 4.

The group believes that extending martial law for the 3rd time “mocks” the 1987 Constitution.

The main factual question is whether there exists a state of rebellion to satisfy the constitutional requirement to declare martial law. President Rodrigo Duterte’s security officials claim, and an overwhelming majority of Congress believes, that rebellion persists in Mindanao. 

The opposition would have to overcome not only that claim, but a previous ruling of the Supreme Court which gives Duterte an almost absolute discretion to claim a state of rebellion and declare martial law.

Duterte’s new appointees, Associate Justices Jose Reyes Jr, Ramon Paul Hernando and Rosmari Carandang, and possibly another one to replace Associate Justice Noel Tijam, would be considered swing votes.

Except for the new justices, only Associate Justices Antonio Carpio, Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza and Benjamin Caguioa voted previously to either strike down martial law or limit it to select provinces in Mindanao. – Rappler.com

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 lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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