Lagman nixes appeal to SC ruling on Mindanao martial law

RG Cruz, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 27 2017 01:37 PM

MANILA- Opposition lawmakers will no longer pursue a reversal of the Supreme Court's decision upholding the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

In a statement, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said the Supreme Court's recent decisions upholding congressional discretion on martial law have prompted opposition lawmakers to no longer file a motion for reconsideration. 

The lawmakers would also forego a petition challenging the constitutionality of Congress' grant of a 150-day extension of President Rodrigo Duterte's martial law declaration in Mindanao.

The High Court on Tuesday dismissed petitions to compel a joint session of Congress to review the President's original declaration.

This followed its July 4 ruling that affirmed Duterte's 60-day martial law declaration in Mindanao, which the Commander-in-Chief laid down on the day clashes between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists erupted in Marawi City.

After the President's May 23 declaration, Congress opted not to convene in joint session to review the proclamation as majority supported the move. This prompted several petitioners to raise the matter before the High Court. 

On Duterte's request, lawmakers held a joint session Saturday and approved the extension of military rule in Mindanao until the end of the year, as state forces have yet to fully flush terrorists out of Marawi City two months since firefights began, and when the initial martial law declaration was to lapse.

A total of 261 legislators said yes to lengthening Proclamation No. 216, while 18 rejected the proposal. The Senate vote yielded a final tally of 16-4, while the House of Representatives had it 245-14.

Lagman cited the following reasons for foregoing a reconsideration plea:

  • The present composition of the Supreme Court may not be disposed to favorably act on the petition after it refused to exercise jurisdiction against the legislature in two mandamus cases.
  • With the current temperament of the Supreme Court, it may be an exercise in futility to press for the declaration of nullity of the congressional extension.
  • The authentic minority will wait for the occurrence of identical issues in subsequent instances, which may be adjudicated on the merits by the High Court.

Lagman, however, clarified that opposition lawmakers would take necessary legal action if martial law in Mindanao becomes abusive, and if military rule is not immediately lifted after the siege in Marawi City.

More than 600 have died in the conflict, while 400,000 have been driven away from Marawi City and nearby areas. The President last week said the crisis may soon be over.