Philippine opposition lawmakers petitioned the Supreme Court on Monday to review and nullify President Rodrigo Duterte’s imposition of martial law in the southern third of the country.
The petition filed by six House lawmakers, led by Representative Edcel Lagman, said there was no revolution or invasion where public safety required the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. It said the proclamation contained “fatal inaccuracies and falsities.”
The petitioners said congressional leaders and the majority of lawmakers allied with Duterte were derelict in their constitutional duty by refusing to convene a joint session of Congress to vote whether or not to revoke the martial law proclamation.
Duterte made the declaration May 24 after extremists allied with ISIS laid siege to Marawi city. The declaration lasts through mid-July, but could be extended with the consent of Congress.
The martial law proclamation said the militants openly attempted to remove that part of the country from its allegiance to the Philippine government by taking over a hospital, establishing several checkpoints in the city, burning down certain government and private facilities, and flying the ISIS flag in several areas.
Duterte ‘acted alone’
But the petitioners said even the military admitted the conflict in Marawi was precipitated by troops’ operation to neutralize or capture Isnilon Hapilon, a high-profile militant commander. They also said the claim that militants took over a hospital and Duterte’s claim that a local police chief was decapitated both turned out to be wrong.
“The president’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao has no sufficient factual basis as it is feebly based on mostly contrived and/or inaccurate facts, self-serving speculations, enumeration of distant occurrences and mere conclusions of fact and law on the purported existence of ‘rebellion or invasion’,” the lawmakers said.
They said the martial law imposition is “flawed” because Duterte “acted alone without the benefit of a recommendation from Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana or from any ranking officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” as Lorenzana admitted during congressional briefings.