SC upholds year-long Mindanao martial law extension

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Feb 06 2018 01:47 PM | Updated as of Feb 06 2018 08:05 PM

Soldiers at the main battle area of Marawi City after 5 months of fighting between government troops and ISIS-influenced terrorists, Nov. 9, 2017. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA (2ND UPDATE) - The Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Ten magistrates voted to uphold military rule over the restive south while 5 others voted to nullify the proclamation.

Four petitions had been filed at the High Court challenging the 
constitutionality of the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

In a press briefing, Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te gave the breakdown of the vote as follows:

IN FAVOR OF MINDANAO MARTIAL LAW EXTENSION:

  • Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam
  • Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.
  • Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro
  • Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta
  • Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin
  • Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo
  • Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe
  • Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires
  • Associate Justice Andres Reyes Jr. 
  • Associate Justice Alexander Gesmundo

NOT IN FAVOR OF MINDANAO MARTIAL LAW EXTENSION:

  • Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
  • Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
  • Associate Justice Marvic Leonen
  • Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza
  • Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa

In the High Court's July ruling on the first case that questioned the martial law declaration, Jardeleza was in favor, Sereno, Carpio, and Caguioa said martial law should be limited to Marawi City and nearby areas, while Leonen said there was no factual basis for the declaration. 

The High Court, in its latest decision, said the President and Congress had sufficient factual bases to extend military rule since “the rebellion that spawned the Marawi incident persists” and “public safety requires the extension, as shown by facts presented by the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines).” 

The Supreme Court also ruled that the choice and manner of the presidential exercise of military powers is a prerogative alone of the President.

“There is no necessity to impose tests (Proportionality or Suitability) on the choice and manner of the President’s exercise of military powers. The determination of which among the powers granted to the Commander-in-Chief should be exercised in a given set of factual circumstances is a prerogative of the President,” the court said.

Petitioners, according to the High Court, also failed to satisfy the requisites for the issuance of an injunction to stop the implementation of the extension of martial law in Mindanao, stressing “the claims of violation of human rights are speculative and lack a nexus between the exercise of martial law powers and their apprehension of such violations.”

Petitioners against the second extension had argued on the lack of factual basis of the extension of military rule in Mindanao for another year, citing the absence of actual firefights in southern Philippines following the end of clashes in Marawi City. 

Solicitor General Jose Calida meanwhile, defended the government's decision, saying there is “an ongoing rebellion in Mindanao” and that petitioners cannot dispute the assessment of state forces that public safety requires the extension of martial rule.

President Rodrigo Duterte cited remaining security threats in Mindanao in seeking another extension of martial law despite the end of hostilities in Marawi City in October.

He initially declared a 60-day military rule over all of Mindanao when firefights erupted between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists in the Islamic City on May 23, 2017. 

The Supreme Court upheld this declaration in July when its legality was questioned. 

-with a report from Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News