MANILA - A petition questioning the third extension of martial law in Mindanao before the Supreme Court is "bound to fail" because the administration can prove the factual basis behind asking for it, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Monday.
The Senate and the House of Representatives last week granted President Rodrigo Duterte's request to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2019, and Guevarra is confident the high tribunal will sustain this.
“For as long as the government can clearly show that there is factual basis for the further effectivity of martial law then I guess that petition is bound to fail,” he told reporters during a press conference at the Department of Justice.
The Constitution provides Supreme Court the power to review factual bases for declaration and extension of martial law after the executive declares it and the legislative approves of it.
Several lawmakers, particularly the Makabayan bloc and the Magnificent Seven who identify themselves as the legitimate minority in the House of Representatives, have said they will question the third extension of military rule in Mindanao, even as the SC had previously upheld the declaration and the subsequent extension of martial law in Mindanao.
For Guevarra, all the necessary facts and information to justify the extension have been presented to the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The information came from the Armed Forces, law enforcement agencies and intelligence sector, which are available only to the President as the country’s commander-in-chief, he said.
“The government has the information that other people do not have,” he said.
“If Congress including the House and the Senate have resolved to believe the facts presented before them that rebellion continues to exist in Mindanao, having said that, I guess the Supreme Court, without preempting it, will find it difficult to say that factual basis does not exist,” he added.
Guevarra however is not discounting the possibility that Congress may, at any given time, decide to shorten the effectivity period of martial law in Mindanao.
“If the government would find that the factual basis for martial law in 2019 has ceased to exist by let’s say June or July of next year, the government or Congress has all the power to cut short the effectivity,” he said.
“The matter of extension is the prerogative of Congress and if there is no further basis for a continuance until Dec. 31 of 2019, no one can prohibit or prevent the cutting short of that period of effectivity to less than one year,” he added.