MANILA – The Supreme Court is set to hold oral arguments later this month on the petition against the third extension of the martial law declaration in the entire island of Mindanao.
The High Court on Tuesday said that the oral arguments have been set on Jan. 22 and 23 following the petition filed by opposition lawmakers led by Albay representative Edcel Lagman.
Based on the petition, the third martial law extension and suspension of writ of habeas corpus is in violation of the 1987 Constitution because “public safety is not imperiled” and rebellion does not exist in Mindanao.
“President Duterte’s letter dated 06 December 2018 to the Congress initiating a third extension failed to demonstrate the sufficient factual basis for his request, and his allegations of lawless violence and terrorism were not connected to rebellion,” Lagman said.
According to the 1987 Constitution, the President is allowed to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of the habeas corpus “in case of invasion or rebellion (or) when the public safety requires it” for a period of 60 days.
The Congress last December granted Duterte’s request to extend the martial law until Dec. 31, 2019 due to presence of local terrorists and due to the upcoming midterm elections.
The President has placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23, 2017 – the same day the ISIS-inspired Maute terrorist group began its siege on Marawi City.
Both houses of Congress jointly extended the martial law twice, with the existing set to expire at the end of the year./PN