The consolidated petitions calling for junking the recent martial law declaration of President Rodrigo Duterte covering the whole of Mindanao were deemed Monday as having been submitted for decision.
The declaration was triggered by the violent standoff in Marawi City sparked by the resistance put up by followers of the terrorist Maute Group to an attempt by government forces to serve a warrant of arrest on Abu Sayyaf sub-leader Isnilon Hapilon, who had ostensibly gone to the Islamic City of Marawi to join forces there with Maute in trying to stake a “daesh” or so-called province of the Middle East terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in Mindanao and, by inference, Southeast Asia.
This development at the high court came after the Office of the Solicitor General, the government’s highest lawyer, and the rest of the petitioners, including Albay Representative Edcel Lagman, submitted their respective referendums.
In his memorandum, Solicitor General Jose Calida argued that the declaration of martial law was needed and justified. The petitioners stressed the point that what happened in Marawi did not constitute rebellion but was
OSG noted that the opposing petitioners failed to prove there was abuse of authority by the President in exercising his martial law powers, or even substantiate their contention that there was no factual basis for doing so.
In a related development, the OSG asked the Supreme Court to allow President Duterte “to perform his constitutional mandate of protecting the people.”
SG Calida underscored: “The Constitution declares in no uncertain terms that the prime duty of the government is to protect the people … In faithful compliance with this duty, President Duterte saw it fit to exercise his constitutional power to declare martial law.”
Calida argued that, while it is easy to brush aside the armed attacks in Marawi City and elsewhere in Mindanao as common crimes bereft of any political motive or color, “these attacks are atypical of previous terrorist activities in Mindanao.”
According to Calida, the magnitude and scope of the rebellion, and how it has endangered public safety in the entire Mindanao region, validates the need for the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
“As the survival of the State hangs in the balance, I implore the Honorable Supreme Court to sustain the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216, and allow the President to perform his constitutional mandate of protecting the people.”