ANOTHER PETITION asking for the nullification of the third martial law extension in Mindanao has been filed before the Supreme Court (SC), this time by four indigenous people (IP) members.
The petitioners are Rius Valle, Jhosa Mae Palomo, and Jeany Rose I. Hayahay, all teachers of a school for IPs, locally referred to as lumads, and student Rorelyn Mandacawan.
They argued that there is no factual basis in extending martial law until the end of 2019, citing President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s October 2017 declaration that Marawi City has been liberated from terrorist influence.
They also pointed out that in the Dec. 6, 2017 letter of Mr. Duterte to Congress, he said that the situation in Mindanao has already improved and the purpose of the extension is to “finally put an end to the on-going rebellion in Mindanao.”
“It follows that the third extension granted by Congress in December 2018 was based on a proclamation whose factual basis no longer exists. Without such factual basis, there is no valid reason to justify a further extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” they said.
Three petitions were filed earlier by seven opposition lawmakers, the Makabayan bloc in Congress, and 1987 Constitution framer Christian M. Monsod and other human right lawyers and two law students.
The SC has consolidated the three petitions and moved the oral arguments from Jan. 22 and 23 to Jan. 29 and 30.
Congress approved the third martial law extension on Dec. 12, 2018. Mr. Duterte first imposed military rule in Mindanao on May 23, 2017 after local extremist groups allied with Islamic State attacked Marawi City.
Senatorial candidate and Free Legal Assistance Group Chairperson Jose Manuel I. Dikono, legal counsel of the lumad petitioners, said what separates their petition from the first three is that the complainants are from Mindanao.
“Siguro ‘yung kakaiba sa aming petition ay ang aming client, ang aming petitioners, ay mismong taga Mindanao, mga Lumad at (What sets the petition apart from the first three is that our clients are from Mindanano, lumads and) directly aggrieved, directly affected by the militarization that is happening as a result of the extension of martial law,” he told reporters.
“Sila yung tunay na mukha kasi ng martial law (They are the face of martial law,” he added.
They also said in the petition that the extension of martial law “resulted in an environment of continued impunity directed against Lumad schools which have been harassed, intimidated, and ‘red-tagged.’”
They cited their experiences of harassment from the military, including the abduction of Ms. Hayahay’s mother in October 2018 for 18 days.
“Congress’ uncritical acceptance of the supposed need and ostensible basis for martial law have resulted in actions that directly contravene rights guaranteed under the 1987 Constitution,” the petitioners said.
Based on the Constitution, the President may declare martial law in case of rebellion or invasion, when public safety requires. Congress, through the initiative of the President, can extend martial if those parameters persist. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas