New petition filed vs martial law extension in Mindanao

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 12) Former Human Rights Chairperson and Akbayan Party-list Representative Etta Rosales on Friday filed the newest petition against the extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

In the petition filed before the Supreme Court, Rosales argued that in the absence of an actual invasion or actual rebellion - there is no factual basis for extending martial law in Mindanao.

Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, who serves as Rosales' lawyer, said President Duterte's reference to the continued threat of rebels, terrorists, and communists in the region cannot be used to justify the re-extension.

He pointed out that martial law can neither be declared for preventive reasons nor be used to quell the threat of an impending invasion of rebellion.

"The President can no longer declare or extend martial law on the basis of mere threats of an impending invasion or rebellion. This is the clear, indisputable letter and intent of the 1987 Constitution," Hilbay stated in the 33-page petition.

He explained martial law is the imposition of military law on the civilian population in "a theater of war," out of necessity for the protection of the public.

This happens, according to Hilbay, when there's fighting in an area, civil courts are unable to function, and the President, as commander-in-chief, has the authority to issue orders which have the effect of law but only in that area.

Hilbay said this is not the case in Mindanao.

"Why? The trial courts in Mindanao are fully functioning. The local governments are fully functioning. There's no more fighting in Marawi. There may be rebels, there may be terrorists but that's not enough for suppressing and preventing rebellion," he said.

Hilbay noted while the promotion of a stable socio-economic growth for Mindanao is laudable, it's not a justification for the continued imposition of martial law.

This is already the third petition questioning the extension of martial law in Mindanao - where the first two petitions have been consolidated.

The court has set the petitions for oral arguments on January 16 and 17.

In July 2017, an overwhelming majority of justices voted to uphold the declaration of military rule in Mindanao.