Human rights groups, solons question martial law extension before SC

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President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23 when ISIS-inspired Maute fighters attacked Marawi City. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 8) Human rights groups and lawmakers are questioning the legal basis for extending martial law in Mindanao up to December 2018.

Representatives of the National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) and Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (BAYAN) Monday filed a petition with the Supreme Court (SC) on Monday that seeks to issue a temporary restraining order ON the extension.

The petitioners said there is no sufficient factual basis to warrant the year-long extension that was approved by Congress.

"The Marawi siege and other grounds under Proclamation 216 that were used as the alleged bases to justify the assailed declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus have already been resolved and no longer persist," the petition stated.

The petitioners also said the Senate and the House of Representatives committed "grave abuse of discretion" by allowing the continued extension of martial law for another year.

" Is it not strange that the second extension is set for a period that is much longer than the period when fighting was still ongoing, there being no fighting in Marawi now? What are the parameters for setting the time frame? What would be the parameters for the possible earlier lifting of martial law?" it read.


ACT Teachers Representatives Antonio Tinio and France Castro, two of the petitioners, warned martial law in Mindanao is a tool "to silence political dissent."

"The solons hope that the Supreme Court, as a co-equal branch, shall  exercise its check and balance duty to arrest excesses of the Executive's  authority to ensure the protection of the people's fundamental rights and liberties," they said in a statement.

This is the second petition filed against extending martial law in Mindanao up to December 2018. Lawmakers led by Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman asked the high court to reject the extension.

READ: Opposition solons ask Supreme Court to nullify Congress vote to re-extend martial law

Martial law was declared in Mindanao on May 23 when ISIS-inspired Maute fighters attacked Marawi City, resulting in a war that took five months to end.

Martial law was first extended up to December 2017 after the 60-day period provided by Constitution lapsed, but Congress extended it to December 2018 upon the request from President Rodrigo Duterte.

On December 29, the SC asked the government to respond to the first petition to junk the extension within ten days.