SC says ML extension is constitutional; junks 4 petitions

By , on February 6, 2018

Supreme Court of the Philippines. (Photo: Philippine News Agency)
Supreme Court of the Philippines (PNA photo)

The highest court of the land on Tuesday, February 6 dismissed a total of four petitions challenging the one-year extension of the military rule in Mindanao.

According to Supreme Court (SC) spokesman Theodore Te, the decision came from a voting of 10-5.

“Wherefore, the court finds sufficient factual bases for issuance of Resolution of Both Houses No. 4 and declares it as constitutional. Accordingly, the consolidated petitions are hereby dismissed,” he said in a press conference.

Together with Associate Justice Noel Tijam who wrote the majority ruling, other magistrates who agreed were: Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Mariano del Castillo, Diosdado Peralta, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr, and Alexander Gesmundo.

Meanwhile, those who dissented were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, and Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza. Jardeleza earlier agreed to implement the initial martial law (ML) declaration.

Lawmakers leaning to the Left headed by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman were the first ones to file a petition before the SC. The Makabayan bloc in the House of Representatives also filed their petition, followed by former Human Rights Commission chairwoman Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales. Former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Christian Monsod leading a group was the fourth to file.

President Rodrigo Duterte requested the Congress for an extension of the military rule after hearing the sides of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on “increasing” terrorist activities in the southern region.

The Maute fighters’ attack in battle-torn Marawi City in May prompted the President to declare martial law in Mindanao.

This has however received criticisms of being unconstitutional.

“We are definitely filing a petition before the Supreme Court,” Lagman said in a press conference in December.

“I hope this time the Supreme Court will see that there is no factual and constitutional basis for the extension of the period of martial law,” he added.

(Read: Opposition solons to question martial law extension before SC)

Also in December, Ranao Rescue Team Head Samira Gutoc said that they were not informed of the schedule of the joint hearing on the extension of the martial law extension in Mindanao.

“So, we actually would protest the martial law hearing yesterday on the technicality, the absence of civilian voices,” Gutoc said in an interview with ANC.

(Read: Maranao official: ML extension approval lacks civilian voices)