IBP sees no need to challenge Mindanao martial law

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2017 04:32 PM

A government soldier in an armored personnel carrier stands on guard at a checkpoint along a main highway in Pantar town, Lanao del Norte, after residents started to evacuate their hometown of Marawi Wednesday. Romeo Ranoco, Reuters

MANILA - The Integrated Bar of the Philippines sees no reason to question or challenge President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, for now.

In a statement, the IBP, the mandatory organization for lawyers in the country, assured the public that there are enough safeguards in the 1987 Constitution to ensure that the rights of citizens are protected during martial rule, even as the organization called on the armed forces "to wield this power with caution and regard for the rule of law."

"In view of what has happened in Marawi City, the imminent danger of the escalation and spread of the hostilities to other parts of Mindanao, and the existence of other terrorist groups operating in Mindanao that can take advantage of the unrest and cause criminal acts and disorder, the national leadership of the IBP sees no reason to question the declaration at this time," the statement read.

"The IBP supports all legal means to end this unrest in Mindanao and encourage the achievement of peace through lawful means."

Cutting short his trip to Russia, Duterte explained that he decided to declare martial law in Mindanao in order to restore peace and order following attacks on Marawi City by the Maute group.

Clashes between government troops and extremist groups in Marawi City have left at least 7 people dead, the military confirmed Thursday, as it scrambled to verify reports of a terrorist-led jailbreak and the alleged massacre and abduction of civilians.

The IBP said the 1987 Constitution "is very clear on the authority of the President to declare martial law, the extent of the authority, and the remedies and safeguards against the abuse of that authority."

"The public may rest assured that the Constitution is very clear on the fact that the declaration will not result to any diminution of their rights and that civil and judicial authorities will continue to function except in places where the continuation of such functions has been rendered difficult," the IBP said.

The organization stressed it will remain "steadfast in their commitment to uphold and defend the Constitution and vigilant against those who intend to curtail democracy and our fundamental freedom."