MANILA — Opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Friday asked the Supreme Court to reverse its decision upholding the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
In a 54-page motion for reconsideration a day before the 60-day martial rule expires, Lagman, together with Akbayan Partylist Rep. Tomas Villarin, Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano, Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones and Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat, Jr. challenged the factual sufficiency of Proclamation No. 216 issued by President Duterte on May 23.
The petitioner also seek to reverse the dissenting opinion of the three justices namely Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Caguioa who partially granted the petitions as they believed that while there was factual basis for declaration of martial law, it should be limited in scope and should have not covered entire Mindanao.
The lawmakers criticized the high court for “abdicating its special jurisdiction to fully review the factual sufficiency” of the martial law proclamation in Mindanao.
Lagman further described SC’s ruling as “flawed and tainted” because it weakened the high court’s power of judicial review.
Lagman noted that the SC accorded the President “undue concessions” by claiming its lack of competence to ably determine the facts on the ground and admitting a supposed “institutional incapacity” to vet relevant facts, thereby deferring to the President’s wisdom to gather and evaluate intelligence information.
The Albay lawmaker also pointed out that the high court granted “excessive leeway” to the President’s exercise of emergency powers.
The opposition lawmakers maintained that there was “no actual rebellion in Marawi City” and in the whole of Mindanao when the President declared martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus on May 23, 2017.
The lawmakers further claimed what was occurring in Marawi then was lawless violence amounting to terrorism.
Under the Constitution, the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is based on rebellion or invasion when the public safety requires it.
”[The] appalling escalation of deaths of soldiers and terrorists, including innocent civilians; massive destruction of both public and private properties; and the widespread displacement of residents, many of whom have died in cramped and unsanitary makeshift evacuation centers, are the horrific aftermath of the declaration of martial law, which were not the prevailing conditions at the time Proclamation No. 216 was issued on May 23, 2017,” Lagman said.
“This tragic aftermath could have been avoided had martial law not been declared. The improvident and unconstitutional imposition gave the military and police forces the go-signal to inordinately intensify their air strikes and land assaults which resulted to the wanton devastation of Marawi City and a looming humanitarian crisis”, Lagman added.
Solicitor General Jose Calida is confident that the motion of opposition lawmakers and other petitioners for the Supreme Court to reverse its decision upholding martial law in Mindanao will never see the light of day.
“I see the motion for reconsideration on the martial law decision (filed by petitioners led by Rep. Lagman) having two chances: NIL and NONE,” the solicitor general said in his Twitter account on Friday.
Earlier, the Supreme Court dismissed the three consolidated petitions challenging the constitutionality of President Duterte’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.
The ruling approved by a majority of 11 of 15 justices of the high court dismissed the petitions led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman that there was no rebellion but only acts of terrorism and mere imminent danger, which would not suffice to meet the requirements for martial law declaration under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution.
The ruling was penned by Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo while 10 others justices concurred — Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires and Noel Tijam — and all submitted their concurring opinions.
“The Court found that there was sufficient factual basis for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus over the whole of Mindanao,” read the decision.
Three justices voted to partially grant the petitions — Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa — while Associate Justice Marvic Leonen voted to grant the petitions.
Two other petitions were filed by separate groups led by former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada both seeking issuance of a mandamus that would compel Senate and the House of Representatives to convene jointly to review the declaration. The SC has yet to act on these petitions. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan and Filane Cervantes/PNA-northboundasia.com