Philippine lawmakers ask top court to nullify martial law

Reuters  Erik de Castro file

In their petition, the lawmakers also assailed the leaderships in Congress for their failure to comply with the constitutional mandate of both chambers to vote jointly in a joint session whether or not to revoke the President's declaration of 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.

Named respondents were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea; Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, martial law administrator, and AFP chief Gen. Eduardo Año, martial law implementor.

The petition filed Monday by six House lawmakers said there was no revolution or invasion where public safety required the declaration of martial law and the proclamation contained "fatal inaccuracies and falsities".

"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", the lawmakers said.

After the Marawi siege began Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao, an island the size of South Korea with a population of 22 million.

Fighting had erupted on May 23 after a bungled raid aimed at capturing Isnilon Hapilon, whom Islamic State proclaimed as its "emir" of Southeast Asia a year ago after he pledged allegiance to the group.

SC spokesman Theodore Te announced Tuesday that oral arguments will be held on June 13, 14, and 15 at 2 p.m.at the En Banc Session Hall of the Supreme Court.

"3. No less than the military establishment has admitted that the current armed conflict in Marawi City was government-initiated and the armed confrontation was precipitated by the military operation to neutralize or capture Isnilon Hapilon, a high profile terrorist commander, which was resisted by the Maute Group of terrorists".

"1. Contrary to the President's Report, the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) was not overrun by the Maute Group according to Dr. Amer Saber, APMC's Medical Director, and the medical facility remains operational".

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"It is destined for the waste basket especially with the support of the House and the Senate that they are backing the declaration of martial law as sufficient and in compliance with the law".

The chief of police of Malabang in Lanao del Sur, Senior Insp.

A view of the Maute group stronghold with an ISIS flag in Marawi City in southern Philippines May 29, 2017. "This is a symptom of psychosis since they are detached from reality", he noted.

Senators Francis Escudero said he does not agree with the opposition because be he believes there is enough basis to place Mindanao under military rule.

Calida, the government's top lawyer, on Monday said that he is ready to defend Proclamation No. 216 and he is confident that the government will win.

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".

"Who are these rabble-rousers to say that there is no factual basis for the declaration of martial law?"

On Monday, minority members of the House of Represenatives challenged the martial law declation before the SC.

Five days after declaring martial law, Duterte vowed to ignore the Supreme Court and only listen to the military and police.

She said in matters involving national security, the President should be given leeway on how to address problems.

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