Lagman claims 'unprecedented' human rights violations in Marawi

Patrick Quintos, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 14 2017 04:29 PM

Opposition lawmaker Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman exits the Supreme Court after the first day of the oral arguments on the petition of minority lawmakers to nullify President Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao, on 13 June 2017. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Wednesday said he has received reports of an "unprecedented" number of human rights violations in Lanao del Sur after President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao. 

On the second day of oral arguments on cases challenging the martial law declaration, Lagman bared the reports from the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) chapter in Lanao del Sur after 
Associate Justice Noel Tijam asked if he believed martial law was prone to abuses. 

"We have already the report of the IBP Lanao del Sur, which documents the unprecedented violation of human rights in Marawi City. We're going to attach the documents addressed to the President by the IBP in Lanao," he said under Tijam's questioning.

In his opening statement on Tuesday, Lagman argued that martial law was not necessary for the President to apply full military force to subdue the terrorists engaged in firefights with government troops in Marawi City. 

He also cautioned that military rule would just result in abuses "reminiscent of Marcos' martial law." The deposed strongman's regime was marked by killings, enforced disappearances and harassment.

'FEAR' OF DUTERTE'S MARTIAL LAW

Tijam, Duterte's classmate at the San Beda College of Law and the president's second appointee to the High Court, also asked Lagman his motives for the filing the petition against martial law. He clarified if Lagman sought court intervention out of fear that the president would commit abuses. 

"That is part of our petition, the apprehension that despite the safeguards of the Constitution, the safeguards will be violated by a president who may not respect the law and the Constitution," Lagman repllied.

"We have already evidence of that with respect to the extrajudicial killings related to the ongoing deadly campaign against drugs and also statements of the President, which emboldens soldiers to commit excesses including the crime of rape," he added, in reference to a joke that Duterte had told soldiers set to deploy to Marawi City.

Tijam even went on to ask Lagman if he voted for Duterte in the May elections, or if he would have supported martial law had another president won last year's polls.

The opposition lawmaker refused to answer the "personal question." He said his apprehension was just part of the petition that also raised questions on the sufficiency of the factual basis of Duterte's martial law declaration.