MALACAÑANG welcomed Monday the move of the "independent minority bloc" in the House of Representatives to file a petition before the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial rule in Mindanao.
"Regarding the efforts of the independent parties, that's the prerogative to do so. However, the report has been submitted to Congress already regarding the matter [martial law declaration]. So let's see how it unfolds,” Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters.
In a petition filed before the Supreme Court earlier in the day, the opposition lawmakers questioned Duterte’s Proclamation 216 declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao, following the encounter between government troops and members of Maute terrorist group in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.
Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution provides that the country’s president has the authority to declare martial law, “in case of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it.”
Duterte was prompted to impose martial law in Mindanao on May 23 after Maute members reportedly torched government and private facilities in Marawi City and abducted other residents trapped in the city.
Under the Constitution, any person can file a petition before the Supreme Court, which has the special jurisdiction to review the "sufficiency or the factual basis" of such declaration or suspension.
The minority lawmakers argued that there was no presence of rebellion or invasion in Marawi City or in other parts of Mindanao.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said the minority lawmakers have the right to file any challenge to the declaration of martial law but stressed that no one can question the “ongoing rebellion right now in Mindanao.”
Panelo said the recent attacks in Marawi perpetrated by Maute clearly constitute rebellion.
“We will let the Supreme Court decide on that. We are very positive that the grounds laid by the President are in line with the Constitution,” Panelo said in a television interview.
"I don’t think anybody can question there is ongoing rebellion right now in Mindanao. With respect to invasion, there are foreign participants. So that two can be a ground,” he added. (SunStar Philippines)