SC upholds martial law declaration in Mindanao

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The Supreme Court on Tuesday, Dec. 5, jettisoned with finality the three appeals questioning the constitutionality of the martial law President Rodrigo Duterte declared in Mindanao.

Voting 10-3-1, the high court sustained its July 4 decision which declared that Mr. Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216 was well within the authority spelled out in Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution.

“The court … denied with finality for mootness and lack of merit all three motions for reconsideration filed by [the] petitioners,” Theodore Te, the high tribunal’s spokesperson, told a press briefing.

Associate Justice Mariano del Castillo, who penned the majority ruling, was joined by Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Lucas Bersamin, Teresita Leonardo-de Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Samuel Martires and Noel Tijam. 


Resolved petitions

Associate Justices Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmundo, who were appointed by the President after the high court had resolved the petitions, also agreed with the majority.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa and Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio agreed that declaring martial law was within the President’s powers, but differed on the areas it should cover.

Only Associate Justice Marvic Leonen voted to grant the three legal actions separately filed by opposition lawmakers, led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, a group of women from Marawi and “lumad” leaders from Mindanao.

Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza, who voted to dismiss the the original petitions, was still on leave and did not submit his vote on the petitioners’ appeals.

In upholding the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216, the magistrates said martial law was “vital for the protection of the country not only against internal enemies but also against those enemies lurking beyond our shores.” 


‘Probable cause’

“The President’s duty to maintain peace and public safety is not limited only to the place where there is actual rebellion; it extends to other areas where the present hostilities are in danger of spilling over,” the high court ruled.

“In determining the existence of rebellion, the President only needs to convince himself that there is probable cause,” it stressed. –