The Daily Manila Shimbun


Palace asks Supreme Court to junk petitions vs martial law in Mindanao

June 12, 2017

Malacanang has asked the Supreme Court to dismiss petitions seeking to scrap President Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216 placing Mindanao under martial law following attacks by Maute terrorist group in Marawi City. In a 45-page comment, the executive department through Solicitor General Jose Calida sought the dismissal of three consolidated petitions against the legality of Proclamation No. 216 for lack of merit. Calida said the declaration should be given presumption of constitutionality as it is within the powers of the president under Section 18 of Article VII of the Constitution. Calida said the decision of Duterte to declare martial law was based on factual reports from the military and intelligence information. The Supreme Court will hear this case in a three-day oral argument starting Tuesday. "There is nothing arbitrary in this reliance, as the president—given his vast responsibilities as head of state, chief representative in foreign affairs, and commander-in- chief of the Philippine armed forces—could not be reasonably expected to personally determine the veracity of all these reports," Calida said. Calida disputed allegation of petitioners there was no factual basis to justify proclamation of martial law and suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus. He said there existed rebellion that posed threat to public safety in the entire island. This was the main basis for the proclamation, explaining to the high court the link of local terror group Maute to the Islamic State in Iran and Syria (ISIS). "The facts relied on by President Duterte for the issuance of Proclamation No. 216 sufficiently establish the existence of a rebellion in Mindanao. ISIS-inspired local rebel groups have taken arms against the Philippine government for the purpose of removing Mindanao from its allegiance, and of depriving the Chief Executive of his prerogatives therein," the comment stated. Calida also debunked the argument of petitioners on lack of recommendation from or consultation with the ranking defense and military authorities as admitted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in news reports when he briefed members of the Senate and the House of Representatives. "The recommendation of the Secretary of National Defense, or any member of the Executive Department for that matter, is not a condition precedent to the President’s exercise of his power to proclaim martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Consequently, the absence of such positive recommendation does not affect the validity of Proclamation No. 216; neither does it impact on the sufficiency of the factual basis for its proclamation," he said. Calida also argued that petitioners failed to justify the need for the Supreme Court to  intervene. DMS