Philippine lawmakers ask top court to nullify martial law

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, on May 23, 2017 declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao.

The lawmakers said that contrary to MalacaƱang's claim, there is no invasion or rebellion endangering public safety that can justify President Duterte's issuance of Proclamation 216, which also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, effectively allowing warrantless arrests.

In a petition, the minority block in the House of Representatives led by Rep. Edcel Lagman told the SC: "The President's proclamation of martial law in Mindanao has no sufficient factual basis as it is feebly based on mostly contrived and/or inaccurate facts, self-serving speculations, enumeration of distant occurrences and mere conclusions of fact and law on the purported existence of "rebellion or invasion".

He said that days before seizing Marawi City the militants placed supplies in mosques and madrasas, the religious schools of a town whose population of over 2,00,000 is overwhelmingly Muslim in a country where the majority of people are Christians.

Sen. Francis "Chiz" Escudero, on the other hand maintains the President's decision to declare martial law was valid.

The 1987 constitution imposes limits on martial law to prevent a repeat of abuses under Marcos, including allowing the Supreme Court to review its factual basis.

"[Th] e alleged "siege" of Marawi City was actually an armed resistance by the Maute Group to shield [Isnilon Hapilon] from capture, not to overrun Marawi and remove its allegiance from the Republic", they added.

They also said no less than the military establishment has admitted that the Marawi conflict was government-initiated and the armed confrontation was precipitated by the military operation to neutralize or capture Isnilon Hapilon, a high-profile Abu Sayyaf commander reportedly anointed by the Islamic State as of Iraq and Syria its head in the Philippines. The declaration lasts through mid-July but could be extended with the consent of Congress.

Sen. Juan Edgardo Angara Jr. said he expected the filing but the case might be rendered moot and academic as the President could lift the martial law anytime soon.

With overwhelming "ayes", The House of Representatives last Wednesday adopted a resolution expressing its "full support" to President Duterte in his declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The Maute group is named after founders and leaders Abdullah and Omar Maute. "This is a symptom of psychosis since they are detached from reality", he noted.

They cited the President's Report citing the Maute terrorist group hoisting the IS flag in Amai Pakpak Hospital, which was categorically denied by physician Amer Saber, chief of the said hospital.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella, for his part, said in a press conference yesterday: "Regarding the efforts of the independent parties, that's a prerogative to do so, however, the report has been submitted to Congress already regarding the matter and so let's see how it unfolds".

He agreed with Escudero there is enough basis for the declaration.

For his part, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II reiterated that once affirmed by the House of the Representatives and Senate the validity of the President's declaration of martial law the Supreme Court can not be overruled. "Many of our colleagues in the Senate and the House agreed with the declaration of martial law... it is rebellion under the Constitution".

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