The NUPL is set to argue today before the Supreme Court the petition to declare the further extension of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, invalid. Counsels of the petitioners stressed that the extension of martial law lacks sufficient factual basis on the constitutional grounds of the existence of actual rebellion and the necessity of public safety.
“The public safety contemplated by the Constitution is not the generic meaning that rebellion poses a threat to the public. We posit that the public safety requisite in the context of the exercise of martial law powers arises when the operations of civilian government are substantially impaired, or courts do not or have difficulty in functioning, or the delivery of public service is mainly compromised that government has to resort to the extraordinary imposition of martial law,” said in an opening statement by petitioner and counsel Neri Colmenares.
The requirements of military rule should be stringent as the drafters of the Constiitutional Comission have lengthily discussed and can only be imposed in the existence of a theatre of war.
It is convenient to claim for the government that all rebellion poses a threat to public safety , but the fact that there is rebellion does not give the president the blanket authority to choose which power to exercise even if the constitutional requirements are not there. Moreso that the respondents have continuously refused to divulge the specific martial law powers that they want to exercise to quell the rebels that they claim to target.
Not to mention, the imposition of martial law have always been abused to violate the rights of ordinary citizens especially those that are merely exercising their civil and political rights.
“During the Zamboanga seige in 2014, the government conducted aerial bombings without martial law, conducted house-to-house combat in the city using tanks, set up massive check points all over Mindanao, all without martial law. So what martial law power does government actually want with this inordinately extensive extension?” added Colmenares.
With the growing dissent to the injustices and human rights abuses, this fatally defective declaration of martial law is meant to quell the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people to address their grievances and dissent to the government.
“The Supreme Court must judiciously exercise its powers and faithfully fulfill its duties as the court of last resort of the people when all other branches of the government have lamentably failed, ” ended Colmenares. ###
Atty. Neri Javier Colmenares
Atty. Edre U. Olalia
Atty. Maria Cristina P. Yambot
+63 917 847 0301