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SC set to rule on Martial Law petitions

AN old woman named ‘Linda,’ 62, receives water after being rescued from the combat zone where she and her family were trapped more than five weeks in Marawi City. (Reuters)

AN old woman named ‘Linda,’ 62, receives water after being rescued from the combat zone where she and her family were trapped more than five weeks in Marawi City. (Reuters)

The Supreme Court is expected to deliberate tomorrow and rule on the merits of the three petitions that challenged the constitutionality of President Duterte’s proclamation of Martial Law and suspension of the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in Mindanao.

Under the Constitution, the SC is mandated “to review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of Martial Law or the suspension of the privilege of the Writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within 30 days from its filing.”

The first petition against the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216 issued last May 23 was filed last June 5. The 30-day period for the SC to resolve the case expires on July 5.

The SC first petition was filed by a group of opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel C. Lagman. Thereafter, two more petitions were filed by the groups led by Lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat and the women of Marawi City led by Norkaya Mohamad.

The three petitions are included in the agenda of tomorrow’s full court session. The SC had conducted oral arguments and the parties to the three cases have filed their respective memorandums.

The petitioners in the three cases told the SC that Proclamation No. 216 that declared Martial Law and suspended the Writ of Habeas Corpus for 60 days in Mindanao “lacks sufficient factual basis.”

They said the acts of terrorism in Marawi “are not necessarily equivalent to actual rebellion and the consequent requirement of securing public safety” to justify the issuance of Proclamation No. 216.

But Solicitor General Jose Calida, who represented the government, said that the Marawi siege by the Maute Group was not merely a terroristic act but a clear case of rebellion for the purpose of setting up a Islamic State in Mindanao.

Meanwhile, Duterte has threatened to jail critics of his use of Martial Law in the violence-wracked South, days before the SC is set to rule on its legality this week.

Duterte declared martial rule across Mindanao, home to about 20 million people, in late May to quell what he said was a fast-growing threat from the Islamic State group there.

He has insisted he would ignore the findings of the SC, which has constitutional oversight, vowing only to listen to recommendations from the Armed Forces.

“It’s not dependent on the whim of the Supreme Court. Should I believe them? When I see the situation is still chaotic and you ask me to lift it? I will arrest you and put you behind bars,” Duterte said in a speech before local officials Saturday.

“We can talk of anything else and make compromises maybe but not when the interest of my country is at stake.”

Government forces are continuing to battle militants occupying Marawi with aerial bombardment and ferocious street-to-street combat that has left some 400 people dead and forced nearly 400,000 people in the wider area to flee their homes. (Rey G. Panaligan and AFP)

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