SC merges 2 mandamus petitions vs martial law

MANILA — The Supreme Court on Thursday announced that it will consolidate the two mandamus petitions asking the high court to order the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene in joint session and vote jointly on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 216 declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

The first petition was filed by former senator Rene Saguisag former party-list lawmaker Loretta Ann Rosales, detained Senator Leila De Lima, former PhilHealth Director Alexander Padilla and law professor Rene Gorospe on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iniguez, Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Bishop Antonio Tobias former senator Wigberto Tanada, Adelaida Ygrubay, prioress of St. Scholastica’s Priory Missionnary Benedictine Sisters, Shamah Bulangis of Siliman University and Cassandra Deluria of the University of the Philippines-Diliman filed the second petition on Wednesday.

The mandamus petitions named Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as respondents.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said that petition filed by opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman asked the SC to nullify the martial law declaration is different from the mandamus petition which were filed after the Court’s En Banc session last Tuesday.

He noted it will not be tackled in the preliminary conference on June 12 and on the oral arguments set by the justices on June 13, 14 and 15 at 10 a.m.

”At present, there are two petitions for mandamus filed by Alex Padilla, et al. and Wigberto Tanada, et al.; both were filed after the Court’s En Banc session last Tuesday. They differ from the Petition challenging the factual basis/es for Martial Law in MIndanao and will thus not be consolidated with the Martial Law petition and will not be covered by the Court’s instructions given last Tuesday for preliminary conference, and oral arguments,” Te said in a statement.

Aside from Lagman, other petitioners include Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice.

Named respondents to the petition were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary and Martial Law Administrator Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff and Martial Law Implementor Eduardo Año.

The high court gave respondents on or before noon on June 12 to submit their comment.

”Require the Office of the Solicitor General, for and in behalf of the respondents, to comment on the petition not later than June 12, 2017 at 12:00 Noon (The Docket Receiving Section of the Supreme Court will be open to receive the Comment.),” Te said.

It also set preliminary conference on the case on the same day (June 12) at 2 p.m. and required parties to submit memoranda not later than June 19 at 2 p.m. after the oral arguments.

In their petition filed Monday, Lagman and six other congressmen asked the high court to exercise its power under the Constitution to review a president’s martial law declaration.

Petitioners argued, in a nutshell, that there was no factual basis to justify the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus.

They claimed that the siege in Marawi is not rebellion or invasion, but rather an “armed resistance by the Maute Group to shield Hapilon from capture, not to overrun Marawi and remove its allegiance from the Republic.”

Petitioners believes that what was present in Marawi may be considered only as “imminent dange, which has been obliterated from the 1987 Constitution as an alternative ground for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”

On Monday, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said that he is ready to defend Proclamation No. 216 and he is confident that the government will win.

Calida made the statement in response to the filing of opposition lawmakers a petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

“Who are these rabble-rousers to say that there is no factual basis for the declaration of martial law?” Calida said in a statement.

“Their denial that there is an ongoing rebellion by the combined forces of the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf, heightened by the participation of foreign jihadists to make Mindanao a caliphate of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), is like saying that the sun does not rise from the east. This is a symptom of psychosis since they are detached from reality,” he noted.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, on May 23 declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. This was a result of the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City, which is still ongoing and is subject to military operations.

“Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the President’s declaration of martial law needs the recommendation or concurrence of the Defense Secretary, or any cabinet official,” Calida said, refuting the petitioners’ argument that Duterte acted alone in declaring martial law without the benefit of a recommendation from his cabinet. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/

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