By Jeffrey G. Damicog
The Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) has welcomed the decision of the Supreme Court (SC) in declaring as constitutional the third martial law extension in Mindanao.
“The Office of the Solicitor General welcomes the decision of the Supreme Court that once again upheld the factual basis for the extension of martial law in Mindanao,” the OSG said in a statement.
On behalf of the legislative and executive branches of government, the OSG had defended before the SC the decision to again extend martial law in Mindanao, this time, up to December 31.
“This decision, together with the successful conduct of the Bangsamoro plebiscite, is a significant step towards achieving lasting peace in Mindanao,” it pointed out.
“Let us continue to support the government’s efforts towards a stronger Philippines,” the OSG urged.
There were four petitions filed before the SC seeking to declare as unconstitutional the third martial law extension.
The petitions were filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Christian Monsod, and Mindanao residents represented by Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG).
Last Tuesday, the SC en banc voted 9-4 to dismiss all the petitions and upheld the constitutionality of the third martial law extension.
The magistrates who voted to dismiss the petitions were Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin and Justices Diosdado Peralta, Mariano Del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Jose Reyes Jr., Ramon Paul Hernando, and Rosmari Carandang.
Those who voted to grant the petitions were Justices Antonio Carpio, Marvic Mario Victor Leonen, Francis Jardeleza, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa.
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 in response to the Maute terrorist group’s attack in Marawi City.
Solicitor General Jose Calida cited the January 27 blasts at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu where 23 persons perished.
“The Jolo Cathedral bombing was part of the ongoing rebellion. But even without the Jolo bombing, we already have factual basis for the extension of martial law,” he said.
“There is still a need to extend martial law because of the ongoing threats to public safety and menace of rebellion not only by communist groups but also local terrorists, especially those Daesh-inspired groups,” he also said.