A third petition challenging the constitutionality of the extension of martial law in Mindanao has been filed before the Supreme Court.
That came about after the 15-member bench resolved to reset the oral arguments on the case that had been scheduled for today and tomorrow to Jan. 29.
The petitioners, led by former Commission on Elections Chairman Christian Monsod, asked the high court to declare the extension of Proclamation 216 for another year or until December 2019 as unconstitutional.
The previous two petitioners were filed by opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman and lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc led by Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate who argued that the factual bases for the declaration or extension of martial law in Mindanao no longer existed.
“The present factual situation no longer calls for an extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus,” Monsod’s 30-page petition says.
Monsod’s group says the 1987 Constitution requires that the existence of an actual rebellion and the requirement of public safety must be met to allow martial law to be extended.
“The factual situation present in Mindanao, which is the basis for the President to intimate the extension for martial law, and the Congress to approve, does not show that the courts or the branches of civilian government are unable to carry out their functions,” the petition says.
The petitioners urged the high court to fulfill its mandate “to be proactive and to independently determine the factual basis of the proclamation or extension of the declaration of a martial law.”
They suggested to the high court to conduct an “independent inquiry, investigation, scrutiny or judgment” and not rely on a report provided by the executive branch.
“Clearly, the intent of the framers of the Constitution is for the Honorable Court to play an active role in the determination of the sufficiency of the factual basis for the extension of martial law at this instance,” insisted Monsod who was a member of the commission that drafted the 1987 Charter.
Solicitor General Jose Calida has already filed his comment for the executive branch and sought the dismissal of the petition.
He told the Court that rebellion, a key requirement for the declaration of martial law under the Constitution, persisted in Mindanao.
Calida cited the official report from the Armed Forces that cited “ongoing rebellion of the Daesh-Inspired groups and their local and foreign allies, particularly the Daulah Islamiyah and by the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army forces in Mindanao.”