Activists, militant solons file 2nd petition vs. martial law in Mindanao

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 09 2017 05:16 PM

MANILA - A group of activists and lawmakers on Friday filed before the Supreme Court a second petition seeking to nullify President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law over Mindanao amid clashes between government troops and Islamic State-linked terror groups in Marawi City. 

The petitioners- ACT Teachers Party-list Rep. Antonio Tinio, Gabriela Party-list Rep. Arlene Brosas, Kabataan Party-list Rep. Sarah Jane  Elago, and militant leaders Renato Reyes, Jr., Cristina Palabay, Eufemia Campos Cullamat, Virgilio Lincuna, Ateliana Hijos, Roland Cobrado, Carl Anthony Olalo, Roy Jim Balanghig, Amaryllis Enriquez, Mae Paner, Gabriela Krista Dalena, Anna Isabelle Estein, Mark Vincent Lim, Vencer Mari Crisostomo and Jovita Montes, argued that the proclamation, which Duterte signed on May 23 hours after firefights began, was unconstitutional “and therefore void and without effect.

Impleaded as respondents in the case are President Duterte, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces Chief of Staff General Eduardo Año, and Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald Dela Rosa.

“[Proclamation No. 216] is patently unconstitutional for failing to provide (i) sufficient factual basis on the existence of rebellion in the entire Mindanao and (ii) sufficient factual basis of its assertion
that public safety requires the imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao," read the 33-page petition. 

"The imposition of Proclamation No. 216 in the entire Mindanao is unwarranted, unjustifiable, and wholly out of proportion to the threat posed by the Maute and Abu Sayaff groups because aside from the violence in Marawi," it said. 

The petition said the respondents failed to prove "sufficient factual basis" that the incidents in Marawi City were "simultaneously occurring in the rest of the 27 cities and 422 municipalities of Mindanao to justify its imposition in the entire island.

In the event the SC finds merit in the president's action in so far as the situation in Marawi is concerned, petitioners urged that Proclamation No. 216, the martial declared, be deemed unconstitutional and void for the rest of Mindanao.

In justifying his declaration, Duterte had said local terror group Maute groups’ attacks on civilian populations,
establishments and key installations in Marawi City on May 23 and its act of flying the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) were an attempt to remove allegiance to the Philippine government and deprive the chief executive of his powers and prerogatives to enforce laws and maintain public order and safety in Mindanao, constituting the crime of rebellion.

Both Senate and the House of Representatives passed separate resolutions supporting the president’s declaration and rejecting calls for a joint session to discuss the same.

'MAUTE GROUP’S 'CAPABILITY' TO SOW TERROR DOES NOT POSE IMMINENT DANGER AND DOES NOT MAKE A REBELLION'

The petitioners insisted that the Maute group’s "capability to sow terror and cause death does not make a rebellion” and "does not even rise to the level of 'imminent danger' which [has been] expressly deleted in the Constitution, for fear that it may be abused as a ground to declare a factually baseless martial law.”

Even arguing that there exists actual rebellion in the entire southern Philippine region, the petitioners said government failed to show sufficient factual basis that such rebellion has reached an extent where public safety required the imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

They also argued that the inclusion of “other rebel groups” in the proclamation was “dangerously vague and unsubstantiated” since government failed to identify who and what these groups are, and what activities undertaken by these groups constitute rebellion.

They also alleged that the proclamation threatened human rights, civil liberties and public safety, and “will even endanger” peace talks with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP).

Among the petitioners were activists representing leftist groups affiliated with the communist party. 

"Based on these premises, petitioners pray that Proclamation No. 216, which imposed martial law and suspended the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao, be struck down for want of a sufficient factual basis,” the petition read.

The petitioners urged the consolidation of their case with other related petitions, and asked the SC to allow them to participate in the oral arguments set to begin on June 13th.

Minority congressmen Edcel Lagman, Tomasito Villarin, Gary Alejano, Emmanuel Billones, Teddy Baguilat, Jr. and Edgar Erice had filed a similar petition with the high court. 

Under the constitution, the SC has 30 days to resolve any petition assailing the factual basis for the declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the habeas corpus writ.