Members of the House of Representatives welcomed the Supreme Court ruling upholding President Rodrigo Duterte’s Proclamation 216 which declared martial law in Mindanao at the onset of the Maute terror group attack last May.
In a majority vote, the Supreme Court on July 4 affirmed President Duterte’s declaration of martial law.
Eleven justices voted to uphold the president’s declaration over all of Mindanao, said Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te in a press briefing.
Three others voted to limit the declaration to Marawi City, the conflict zone. A lone justice, meanwhile, voted to nullify the proclamation altogether.
The decision validated Duterte’s declaration on May 23, when he placed the entire Mindanao under military rule following clashes between government troops and Islamic State-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf group terrorists in the Islamic city of Marawi.
It dismissed several petitions that questioned the basis of the president’s declaration.
In justifying his declaration, President Duterte had told Congress in a report that the extremists were planning to create an Islamic State province in Mindanao.
Several petitioners- opposition lawmakers, leftist leaders and four women from Marawi City- had asked the high court to invalidate the martial law declaration over all of Mindanao, saying there was no basis for military rule.
They asserted that the President could have addressed the crisis even without declaring martial law, saying the conflict was confined within Marawi City.
During oral arguments from June 13 to 15, magistrates sought government’s clarification on the President’s reasons for placing all of Mindanao under martial rule amid clashes between state troops and terrorists in Marawi City.
Solicitor General Jose Calida insisted that “all the elements of rebellion were present” when Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216. The President also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus to allow police to make warrantless arrests of terror suspects.
Rep. Robert Ace Barbers (2nd District, Surigao del Norte), chairman of the committee on dangerous drugs, lauded the SC decision and commended the 11 justices who saw the light and wisdom in President Duterte’s decision in declaring martial law in Mindanao.
“Being a Mindanaoan myself, I share the President’s insight and knowledge of the culture and mentality of the people there. This is a clear vindication of President Duterte’s resolve to crush the Maute rebellion at all cost. Putting the entire Mindanao under Martial Law proved to be a wise move as it prevented possible reinforcements from reaching the rebels in Marawi. This is a victory for every peace-loving Filipino who condemned the senseless loss of lives in that rebellion,” said Barbers.
Rep. Roger Mercado (Lone District, Southern Leyte), chairman of the House committee on constitutional amendments, said the Supreme Court has proven that the Filipino people should support President Duterte.
“Our Muslim brothers must do their part in rebuilding Mindanao in order that the Mindanaoans can see and feel the funds and infrastructure projects of the National Government. It’s bringing the government to the people,” said Mercado.
Rep. Gus Tambunting (2nd District, Parañaque), chairman of the committee on games and amusements, said the Supreme Court ruling is good for the country.
“It avoids a constitutional crisis. It also recognizes that the problem in Mindanao is complex, and the solution is something that the judiciary must not impede the executive from achieving. Now more than ever, we must rally behind President Duterte and the rest of his government in their efforts to stamp out the Daesh and its attempt to bring radicalism and violence to our country,” said Tambunting.
Minority Leader Danilo Suarez said that even before the congressional break, he mentioned that the incident in Marawi may be difficult to contain, with the news coming out that there were pre-positioned fighters, well-armed and well-equipped with unlimited supply of ammo. He said the events justified the President’s martial law declaration, and the SC ruling settled it.
“Iyong extension (ng martial law) is a call of the House and the Senate, if the President will ask for it. I think it’s more of a military decision and the President will be guided accordingly by the decision of the military. I think the situation is still far from being normal. An extension may be in order,” Suarez said.
Rep. Johnny Ty Pimentel (2nd District, Surigao del Sur), chairman of the committee on good government and public accountability, said martial law in Mindanao may be extended to solve the big problem confronting Marawi City.
“Nakita naman po natin na almost 400 na ang namatay and marami na ang napinsala sa Marawi, and in fact, kapag hindi pa ito mabibigyan ng lunas baka ma-extend pa ang martial law, I will still support it,” said Pimentel.