MANILA - Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio wants the Solicitor General to show the Supreme Court evidence of actual rebellion in other parts of Mindanao to support President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law over the entire island amid the continuing conflict in one city.
Interpellating Solicitor General Jose Calida, Carpio said the official may be able to easily defend the existence of actual rebellion in Marawi City, where the terrorist Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups, along with foreign cohorts, have been engaged in clashes with government troops.
Both Carpio and Calida agreed that rebellion has to be actual for the president to legitimately declare martial law. But the magistrate said he has yet to seen evidence of such in other parts of Mindanao.
"We're talking of actual rebellion. I'm trying to establish where in Mindanao is the rebellion. It looks like in Marawi, you can easily defend that there's rebellion," Carpio pointed out.
"But outside of Marawi, I have not seen evidence that there is actual rebellion in Dinagat Island, Camiguin, Misamis provinces, Agusan, Zamboanga, Davao, Surigao, Pagadian, Dapitan," he added.
Rebellion is one of only two conditions under which the 1987 Constitution allows the president to declare martial law.
Bearing safeguards against possible abuse, the organic law allows the declaration of a 60-day military rule only "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it."
Calida argued that the President's proclamation and report to Congress had already explained that the attacks in Marawi showed capability of the Maute and other rebel groups to sow terror in different parts of Mindanao.
In justifying his declaration to Congress, Duterte had cited the terror groups' plot to purportedly create an Islamic State province in Mindanao.
Carpio in turn told the Solicitor General that "capability" does not mean "actual rebellion."
The senior justice ordered Calida to put in his memorandum intelligence reports showing actual rebellion by the Maute or even other groups in other parts of Mindanao.
Calida, meanwhile, still tried to justify his stance, explaining that in cases of rebellion, members of rebel groups may not be confined in one place alone.
"For instance, the financier [could be based] in another place, or the coddler or those part of the plan... They can be arrested anywhere because the act of one is the act of all," he argued.
But Carpio explained that even if the Maute group members came to Manila, it would not automatically mean there was rebellion in this city.
"The Maute group can come here, but does that mean there is rebellion in Manila? No. We can arrest them because they are rebels and rebellion is a continuing crime. But you do not have to declare martial law here to arrest them," he said.