Four female residents of war-torn Marawi City asked the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday to declare unconstitutional and nullify President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Petitioners Norkaya Mohamad, Sittie Nur Dyhanna Mohamad, Noraisah Sani and Zahria Muti-Mapandi, represented by constitutionalist Christian Monsod, argued there is no factual basis for Proclamation No. 216, which, aside from imposing martial law in the southern region, also suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
President Duterte issued the proclamation after local terror group Maute group waged attacks in Marawi City, claiming the group is allied with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and intends to establish a caliphate in Mindanao.
Petitioners believe the siege on the city, which has claimed scores of lives and caused massive destruction of private and public properties, does not warrant placing the entire Mindanao under martial rule and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
“Under the 1987 Constitution, martial law must be an instrument of last resort. If there is a remedy less severe than martial law, such less severe remedy must be resorted to. Only when there is a showing that the situation cannot be contained unless martial law is declared, can the use of such extraordinary power of the President be justifiable.
“Had governance collapsed in Marawi at the time of the Proclamation of Martial Law? Was the violence so widespread and overwhelming that government had broken down to the extent that only the military could establish a semblance of governance? If not, then Martial Law is not warranted,” the petition read.
Petitioners claimed the crisis may still be addressed without resorting to the extraordinary powers.
“As can be seen from both Proclamation and the Report to the Congress, the factual situation in Marawi City does not amount to such grave situation that other powers and resources in the hands of the government cannot address,” the petition read.
Petitioners, however, stressed “[t]his does not diminish the violence and terror that exists in Marawi.”
“It just means that military might can be exercised without abrogating civilian rule,” they clarified.
Petitioners also lamented the "uncertainty of not being able to return to the place they considered home."
This is the third petition challenging the factual basis for Proclamation No. 216.
The other two petitions were filed by minority congressmen led by Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, and activists and leftist lawmakers from the ACT Teachers' Party-list, Gabriela Women's Party-list, and Kabataan Party-list.
Two other petitions call on the SC to compel Congress to convene in joint session to review the proclamation.