Albay 1st District Representative Edcel Lagman on Tuesday denounced the ruling of the Supreme Court (SC) favoring the extension of martial law in Mindanao, saying that “majority of the SC justices can be supreme even in their error.”
Finding sufficient factual bases, the High Court yesterday declared constitutional the Resolution of Both Houses No. 4, which affirmed the request of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until the end of 2018.
“When the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court fall in cadence with the President and the Congress in violating the Constitution, then the country is abandoned in the quagmire of tripartite derogation of the people’s civil liberties,” Lagman said in a statement.
Lagman also said that the SC verdict would “embolden” Duterte in “flouting the rule of law because he can seek refuge behind the robes of majority of the Supreme Court justices.”
The lawmaker noted that “from all constitutional angles,” the Chief Executive’s call to extend the declaration of martial law and Congress’ succeeding approval has no basis. Reiterating his arguments before, he stressed that the Philippine military itself had announced that both leaders and members of the two local terror groups—the ISIS-inspired Maute group and Abu Sayyaf—were killed.
It was the raging gun battle between the troops and the terrorists in Marawi City that prompted the declaration of martial rule.
Lagman also mentioned that four out of the 10 justices who voted in the affirmative side are appointees of the President.
“Another four of the concurring justices are possible contenders to replace Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno who is facing impeachment proceedings,” he said.
In May 2017, Duterte declared martial law in the entire Mindanao amid clashes between government forces and Maute group. The President then asked Congress to extend the imposition of military rule to ensure “total eradication” of terrorist in the region.
The one-year extension is longer than the original maximum period of 60 days, which was extended for another five months.
Two weeks after it was approved by the Congress on December 13, Lagman and the members of the House opposition bloc filed a petition before the High Court in December 27 last year, questioning the constitutionality of a second martial law extension and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in the island of Mindanao.
Aside from declaring the Resolution of Both Houses No. 4 constitutional, the highest court of the land on February 6 dismissed a total of four petitions challenging the extension of the military rule.