MANILA - The Supreme Court on Tuesday concluded oral arguments on the four petitions questioning the third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
It was the government who bore the brunt of the questioning with Solicitor General Jose Calida and Armed Forces of the Philippines deputy chief of staff for intelligence Major General Pablo Lorenzo fielding most questions from the magistrates.
Associate Justices Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Marvic Leonen questioned inconsistencies in the list of incidents cited by the government in justifying the martial law extension.
Caguioa said some incidents had no perpetrators or motives while others pertained to kidnapping and rido or family feud.
He asked the government to explain, in its memorandum, how these incidents could be used to justify extension of martial law.
Leonen, for his part, asked if these intelligence reports cited by the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the government were validated in view of the discrepancies.
Calida acknowledged clerical errors in the report but admitted he has not read all the statistics the AFP cited because he focused on the arguments.
Leonen said sufficiency of factual bases for extension of martial law requires a certain level of consistency and credibility.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio only had 1 question for Lorenzo: “Is there an ongoing rebellion in Marawi City?”
To which Lorenzo replied, “Not in Marawi City, your honor.”
Justice Francis Jardeleza meanwhile urged the government to come up with a baseline for assessing if the goal of martial law extension this year will be achieved, assuming the SC upholds the extension.
Among the petitioners, only Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman from the Magnificent 7 and lawyers Chel Diokno and former SC Spokesperson Theodore Te, who represent petitioners Lumad from Mindanao, faced questions from the en banc.
The whole proceeding lasted 3.5 hours, compared to previous oral arguments which stretched into days.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, moved the deadline for submission of memoranda to February 4, Monday, considering the new petition filed by the Lumad from Mindanao.