MANILA -- The Supreme Court ordered government officials to comment on the petition filed by opposition lawmakers belonging to the "Magnificent 7" bloc assailing the constitutionality of the full-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a two-page order issued Friday, the SC gave the respondents -- represented by Solicitor General Jose Calida -- 10 days to comment on the petition for a temporary restraining order against the extension.
The respondents were Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Rey Leonardo Guerrero.
“The petition appears to be sufficient in form and substance” and consequently required the respondents Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, among others, to “comment on the petition and the prayer for temporary restraining order or writ of preliminary injunction within a non-extendible period of ten (10) days from notice hereof,” the SC said
Last Wednesday, the petitioners led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also asked the high court to issue a temporary restraining order (TRO) or a writ of preliminary injunction to stop the implementation of the challenged re-extension pending adjudication of their petition.
The other petitioners are Representatives Tomasito Villarin, Edgar Erice, Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr., Gary Alejano and Emmanuel Billones.
In a 29-page petition, the lawmakers said there is "no actual rebellion in Mindanao" to justify the re-extension of martial rule in the southern region.
They also argued that the Constitution requires an actual state of rebellion, not just mere threats, for such proclamation of martial rule.
"Threats of violence and terrorism by remnants of vanquished terrorist groups do not constitute a constitutional basis for extension of martial law because “imminent danger” has been deleted as a ground for imposing martial law under the 1987 Constitution," the petitioners said.
Solicitor General Jose Calida hit back at opposition congressmen who filed the petition urging the Supreme Court (SC) to nullify the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
“Anyone who says there is no ongoing rebellion in Mindanao is either ignorant of the factual situation there, or protective of the longest rebellion that has plagued our country," Calida said
“Do the petitioners know better than the President and the overwhelming majority of members of Congress who approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao? Definitely not,” Calida said in a text message to reporters.
In a 240-27 vote, both chambers of Congress voted to approve Duterte’s request to extend the declaration of martial law in Mindanao until the end of 2018.
Calida explained that Congress’ vote declaring the extension as valid was a political process.
“The congressional imprimatur on the validity of the extension is a political question that has been resolved by the legislature,” the solicitor general said. (PNA)