MANILA, Philippines — Opposition members of the House of Representatives will no longer contest Congress’ extension of martial law in Mindanao saying the Supreme Court’s ruling on President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216 made any petition against prolonging it futile.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, who filed the bloc’s earlier petition against Duterte’s martial declaration, gave the following reasons:
- The present composition of the Supreme Court may not be disposed to favorably act on the petition after it refused to exercise jurisdiction against the legislature in two mandamus cases.
In Baguilat, et al. vs. Alvarez, et al., the Supreme Court denied the petition to compel the House leadership to recognize and install Repesentative Teddy Baguilat, Jr. as the legitimate minority leader based on tradition and the Rules of the House as he was the clear runner-up to Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez during the election for the leader of the chamber.
And two petitions for mandamus filed by former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto Tañada, among others, to compel the Congress to meet in joint session to consider the revocation of the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Proclamation No. 216, were also dismissed by the Supreme Court.
- With the current temperament of the Supreme Court, it may be an exercise in futility to press for the declaration of nullity of the congressional extension.
- The authentic minority will wait for the occurrence of identical issues in subsequent instances which may be adjudicated on the merits by the high court.
In a special session on July 22, the Senate and the House voted to extend the effectivity of martial law in Mindanao and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus because of the need to wipe out the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City.
Lagman said the bloc will keep watch on the implementation of martial law and will file necessary cases if it becomes “errant and abusive.” It will also act if martial law was not immediately lifted after December 31, 2017, the period approved by Congress.
He said the opposition maintains that “the extension is bereft of substantial basis, the coverage of the entire Mindanao is unwarranted, and the 150-day extension period is inordinately long amounting to grave abuse of discretion by the Congress.”
Aside from Lagman the members of the opposition bloc are Baguilat, Representatives Raul Daza, Edgar Erice, Emmanuel Billones, Tom Villarin and Gary Alejano.