FORMER Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairperson Loreta "Etta" Rosales on Friday, January 12, filed before the Supreme Court (SC) a petition seeking to declare the martial law extension in Mindanao as unconstitutional.
This is the third petition challenging the imposition of martial law in Mindanao for another one year, or until December 31, 2018.
Rosales, a human rights violation victim during the Marcos regime, believes that none of the grounds cited by President Rodrigo Duterte in his request to Congress for an extension constitute actual rebellion.
Duterte, in his request, cited the continuous recruitment of terrorist groups including the Islamic State-inspired Maute, the rehabilitation of Marawi City and the threats posed by the communist New People's Army (NPA) to support his request for an extension..
“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,” she said.
The former CHR chief stressed that Duterte need not use his powers to declare martial law as his military powers are enough to quell rebellion.
"The full powers of the military may be used by the President against those who engage in 'lawless violence, invasion or rebellion,' without the need to impose martial law," she said.
Rosales also said the President cannot use martial law to prevent rebels from consolidating their strength.
"Clearly, this is not the theater of war envisioned by the framers. Otherwise, every mop up operation of the government would necessarily justify the declration of martial law."
"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 itent of the 1987 Constition."
Rosales asked the SC to consolidate her petition together with the first two petitions filed, respectively, by members of the so-called Magnificent 7 at the House of Representatives and the Makabayan bloc. She also asked that her petition be included in the January 16 and 17 oral arguments.
Respondents in the petition are Duterte, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Armed Forces chief General Rey Guerrero, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez. (SunStar Philippines)