Opposition Lawmakers have filed a petition assailing the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao before the Supreme Court.
The petition was filed by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman filed at 923AM today.
Docketed as G.R. No. 231658, Reps. Tomasito Villarin, Gary Alejano, Emmanuel Billones, Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. and Edgar Erice are co-petitioners.
Villarin separately told media, “We have just filed the first of several petitions before the Supreme Court coming from legislators, lawyers and affected citizens. At 9:23 am today, our petition for the nullification of proclamation 216 declaring ML in Mindanao was brought to the Supreme Court. It was filed without fanfare by the Magnificent 7 to show that this matter should be treated with deference to the wisdom of the Court and with the hope that this be treated with urgency. We respect the powers of the Court and their constitutional mandate of review into the factual basis of the martial law declaration.”
Villarin also said, “We have filed the SC petition asking for nullification of ML today- Reps Lagman, Villarin, Alejano, Baguilat, Billones. Erice is out of the country and Daza could not make it with his signature. (Daza) He had no time to read petition on time for our filing as he is already in his district”
The petitioners assailed Proclamation No. 216 as bereft of sufficient factual basis and prayed that it be nullified.
In a statement, Lagman explained that Section 18 of Article VII of the Constitution empowers the President to declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus only “in case of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it”.
Lagman added that the third paragraph of the same section grants special jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to review the “sufficiency of the factual basis” of such declaration or suspension.
The petitioners contended that there is no sufficient factual anchorage for Proclamation No. 216 because:
1. There is no rebellion or invasion where the public safety requires the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Marawi City or elsewhere in Mindanao.
2. Mere conclusions of fact and law on the pretended existence of rebellion and/or invasion will not serve as sufficient basis since errant conclusions have no legal pedigree.
3. No less than the military establishment has admitted that the current armed conflict in Marawi City was government-initiated and the armed confrontation was precipitated by the military operation to neutralize or capture Isnilon Hapilon, a high profile terrorist commander, which was resisted by the Maute Group of terrorists.
4. Consequently, the alleged “siege” of Marawi City was actually an armed resistance by the Maute Group to shield Hapilon from capture, not to overrun Marawi and remove its allegiance from the Republic.
5. The proffered rebellion and/or invasion is at most a threat akin to “imminent danger” which has been obliterated from the 1987 Constitution as an alternative ground for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
6. The alleged facts contained in Proclamation No. 216 and the President’s Report justifying the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus turned out to be mostly inaccurate, simulated, false and/or hyperbolic and the list of terrorist acts or incidents of violence are either distant or have been earlier solved with the apprehension and prosecution of the suspected culprits.
According to the petitioners the fatal inaccuracies and falsities in the Proclamation and the President’s Report to Congress included the following:
a) Contrary to the President’s Report, the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) was not overrun by the Maute Group according to Dr. Amer Saber, APMC’s Medical Director, and the medical facility remains operational.
b) The Landbank of the Philippines said that its branch in Marawi City was not ransacked by the terrorists, contradicting the President’s Report.
c) The Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation was intact as of 24 May 2017 and Marawi City Schools Division Assistant Superintendent Ana Alonto said that the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was not burned by the terrorists, thus belying the President’s Report.
d) The Police Chief of Malabang in Lanao del Sur, Senior Inspector Romeo Enriquez, is alive and was not beheaded by the terrorists, contrary to the claim of President Duterte upon his arrival from Russia on 24 May 2017.
e) Contradicting Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana’s press briefing in Moscow on 23 May 2017, the Armed Forces of the Philippines denied that the Marawi City Hall was occupied and Mindanao State University (MSU) Vice President for academic affairs Alma Berowa assured that MSU has not been occupied.
The petitioners also claimed that the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is flawed because admittedly President Duterte acted alone, without any recommendation from or consultation with the ranking defense and military authorities, some of whom formed part of his official entourage in Russia.
Lagman said, that the absence of recommendation and consultation was admitted and confirmed by Sec. Lorenzana when he briefed members of the Senate and the House of Representatives.
The lawmakers comprise the so-called Magnificent 7, which has been critical of the Duterte administration.