Thursday| July 6, 2017
While he respected the Supreme Court's historic ruling, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman on Tuesday said the 11 justices who voted for the dismissal of the consolidated petitions against martial law in Mindanao may have erred in doing so.
"The petitioners (opposition Congressmen) in G.R. No. 231658 are prepared to respect the majority decision of the divided Supreme Court upholding the declaration of martial law in Mindanao with a strong reservation or caveat that the majority could be in error," Lagman said in a statement.
Lagman is one of the petitioners against President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
His statement came a day after the high court backed Duterte's Proclamation No. 216, placing the entire island of Mindanao under martial law in an attempt to defeat the ISIS-inspired Maute group who attacked Marawi City on May 23.
Lagman argued that the factual basis of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus should only be limited to what was currently happening on May 23, when Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216. —NB, GMA News
"The ongoing armed confrontation, military air strikes and land offensives and the escalating deaths, destruction and displacement of civilians after 23 May 2017 are the aftermath or result of the martial law declaration which should not be considered as the appropriate actual basis for such controverted declaration and suspension," he said.
Lagman said the majority of the justices failed to realize that the aftermath of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao was "not the prevailing facts on 23 May 2017 when Proclamation No. 216 was issued."
"In fact, authoritative military officials had consistently reported that hours before and contemporaneous to the declaration of martial law, the Marawi situation was under control, the military was on top of the situation and subsequently admitted that it was the military who precipitated and initiated the armed confrontation by attempting to arrest or capture Isnilon Hapilon and the Maute brothers, which offensive was resisted by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups," Lagman said.
Lagman also argued that while there were acts of terrorism and lawless violence in Marawi City, the other element of rebellion --- removing a part of the country from allegiance to the republic or preventing the Congress or President from exercising power in those areas --- is "palpably absent."
"This culpable purpose is not evinced by the mere raising of IS flags which has been done previously by the terrorists as cheap propaganda to support their claim that they are ISIS-inspired," Lagman said.
"Neither is criminal objective evidenced by unsubstantiated claims of establishing a wilayah in Marawi or Mindanao as part of the ISIS caliphate, which is not even reliably confirmed by ISIS itself," he added.
Lagman said that while the petitioners were allowed to appeal the high court's decision, such a move could be futile.
"While filing a motion for reconsideration is an option for the petitioners, a 'rematch' with the 11 justices may be an exercise in futility, as they may not be disposed to change their 'stance' in favor of President Duterte," Lagman said.
The 11 Supreme Court justices who voted to dismiss the consolidated petitions were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Francis Jardaleza, Samuel Martirez, and Noel Tijam.
Meanwhile, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa believed the coverage of martial rule should be limited to some areas only.
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen, on the other hand, voted for the junking of Proclamation No. 216.