MANILA, Philippines – Former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Etta Rosales, represented by former solicitor general Florin Hilbay, filed a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) on Friday, January 12, seeking to stop the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao.
Rosales and Hilbay also filed a motion for their petition to be consolidated with the previous two earlier petitions against martial law in Mindanao that were scheduled for oral arguments on January 16 and 17.
Just like the two previous petitions, Rosales and Hilbay pointed out that the absence of an actual rebellion or invasion is basis to nullify the “continued imposition of marital law” in Mindanao.
“It cannot be said that the build-up activities and plans of these 5 groups to commit crimes are already plans to commit rebellion,” the petition said.
The government defends the re-extension by saying martial law is needed to prevent another Marawi war from happening. President Rodrigo Duterte also cited threats from the New People’s Army, which declared, through a presidential proclamation, as a terrorist group.
Rosales and Hilbay said martial law cannot be used as a preventive measure.
“However, President Duterte’s reference to the continued threat of rebels, terrorists, and communists in the region cannot be used to justify the extension of martial law,” the petition said.
In a news conference, Hilbay said the petition also seeks to provide an answer to the "fundamental question, what is martial law?"
He said this would help understand the "concept" and in the process, "you can constrain and define powers of the President, understand what the military can do, understand the objective of martial law."
In an earlier comment submitted to the SC, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the High Court has no power of judicial review over the martial law re-extension, despite the SC ruling in July that retains its power to review martial law proclamations.
Calida said there is a difference between a proclamation and an extension.