- Opposition lawmakers to bring up martial law extension before high court
- They contended that such extension is unconstitutional because of Maute group’s defeat
- Solicitor general said they were ready to meet the legal challenge head-on
MANILA, Philippines – Opposition legislators in both the House of Representatives and the Senate intend to bring before the Supreme Court the approval by Congress of President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year.
“Now we bring the issue to the Supreme Court and we hope they can remove the blinders of ambition and absolute loyalty and protect our shrinking democratic space,” CNN Philippines quoted Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat as saying.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said he and his fellow opposition senators might also petition the high court.
Congress voted 240-27 to extend the period of martial law after the administration cited the threats posed by the NPA and reports of recruitment by the Maute group in Marawi City and elsewhere for a possible reprisal.
However, lawmakers opposed to the extension argued that the absence of an armed public uprising following the defeat of the Maute effectively ended any rebellion in Mindanao.
Drilon and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman also questioned the inclusion of the New People’s Army in the administration’s justification for an extension, saying they were not included in President Rodrigo Duterte’s original proclamation which implemented martial rule in Mindanao.
For his part, Solicitor General Jose Calida said the government is prepared to face any legal challenge to the extension head-on.
“To those who intend to challenge the extension of martial law before the Supreme Court, I wish you luck. You’ll need it,” he said.
The Supreme Court had earlier agreed with the government’s contention that the Maute uprising in Marawi constituted rebellion and not just terrorism.