MANILA - Any questions on the legality of President Duterte's Proclamation 216 declaring martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao should be raised before the Supreme Court (SC), Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Thursday.
Aguirre defended the declaration, saying there must be presumption of regularity on the part of the president.
"The president is entitled to be presumed to be regularly performing the duties of his office," the justice chief said in a text message.
The President placed Mindanao under martial rule following attacks by the Maute group in civilian populations and installations in Marawi City.
The move gained its fair share of supporters and critics, with supporters saying the declaration is justifiable given the prevailing situation in various parts of the region, and critics saying there is not enough basis for it even as they expressed fears on the possibility of abuse on the part of the implementors.
Mr. Duterte said the Maute group is committing rebellion by taking over a local hospital; burning public and privately owned facilities; and flying the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) which caused a breakdown in peace and order in the city and depriving the president of his "powers and prerogatives."
Proclamation 216 states the Maute group and other rebel groups may continue to sow terror and cause the deaths of civilians, as well as damage to properties, in nearby areas and the rest of Mindanao.
In the event that a case is filed with the SC, the high court has 30 days to resolve the same, as provided for in the 1987 Constitution.