By Jeffrey Damicog
The Supreme Court (SC) has consolidated all four petitions seeking to declare as unconstitutional the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
The High Court made the announcement in its official Twitter post after it received the last two petitions Friday, January 12.
With the consolidation, the SC is set to conduct oral arguments for all four petitions on January 17.
After former Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales filed her petition Friday morning, another petition was filed later that afternoon at the SC by the group of constitutional expert and lawyer Christian Monsod and Dinagat Islands Rep. Kaka Bag-ao.
In her petition, Rosales told the SC that mere threats of violence do not justify the declaration of martial law because the Constitution provides that the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus can be done only in case of invasion, rebellion or when the public safety requires it.
“Actual invasion or actual rebellion presupposes the existence of a theater of war that requires the imposition of military law on the civilian population. Thus, in the absence of an actual invasion or actual rebellion, necessarily, there is no factual basis for extending martial law,” she said.
In urging the High Tribunal to act favorably on her petition, Rosales said “the Honorable Court is the last institution that can prevent the misuse and ‘normalization’ of martial law for ordinary peacekeeping and governance activities.”
The group of Monsod also made similar arguments as they pointed out the government has already declared victory against the Maute terrorist group which was the reason why President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao back in May 2017 when Marawi City first got attacked.
“This alleged rebellion invoked in the extension could not have been the same rebellion existing from May 2017, as the actual rebellion that was found by this Honorable Court could be founded on factual basis is the Marawi crisis. And such has been resolved as pronounced by the President himself,” they said
“Although there are claims of regrouping by the terrorist group identified, these are not tantamount to an actual rebellion in the strictest sense of the word, as to snatch a territory from the power of the state,” they added.
The first petition against the extension of martial law in Mindanao was filed last December 27 by a group of congressmen led by Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman.
This was followed by a petition from the group led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Anakpawis Representative Ariel Casilao filed last January 8.