SolGen asks SC to junk petition vs. martial law extension

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Solicitor General Jose Calida. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8) — The government's top lawyer called on the Supreme Court (SC)  to junk the December 27 petition filed against the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

On Monday, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida submitted his comment to the petition filed by Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman and other lawmakers, citing Congress' abuse of discretion in extending martial law in Mindanao and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus up to December 2018.

"They failed to attach the adverted "Joint Resolution" of Congress upon which they pin their allegation of arbitrariness," Calida said.


He added that in a July 2017 decision, the high court recognized the existence of rebellion as grounds to declare martial law in Mindanao.

"Moreover, they trace the arbitrariness to the absence of an actual rebellion. Petitioners are unmindful that the Supreme Court already declared in Lagman v. Medialdea the existence of rebellion in Mindanao. Such fact is now beyond question," Calida said.

Calida, in his comment, also said that the manner by which Congress approved the extension is a "political question."

"What the petitioners should have done is to show that the rebellion has been completely quelled. They have not done so," he added.

The government's top lawyer also said if the SC issues an injunctive relief from the decisions, it would interfere with the President's power to declare martial rule, and Congress' power to extend it.

"The Supreme Court may only review the factual basis thereof, which power is not even automatic, as it can only be exercised upon initiative of any concerned citizen. In the same breath, the Court cannot wield its power to issue injunctive relief to contravene the Commander-in-Chief powers granted to the Executive by the Constitution," Calida said.

The petition filed by Lagman is one of two petitions pending before the high court. The second was filed Monday morning, which also questioned the lega basis of the year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao.

READ: Human rights groups, solons question martial law extension before SC