Lawyers group ‘weeps’ for Mindanao as SC affirms constitutionality of Martial Law

Jul. 04, 2017

GARRISON CITY. Scores of police officers in full combat gear patrol along Roxas Avenue in Davao City on the first day of Martial Law in Mindanao on Wednesday, May 24. President Rodrigo Duterte, through Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella announced the declaration on Tuesday evening after a series of clashes erupted between government troops and members of the Maute in Marawi City. (Paulo C. Rizal/

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Lawyers who petitioned against the declaration of Martial Law expressed dismay on the Supreme Courts’s affirmation of its constitutionality on Tuesday, July 4.

“Today we weep for Mindanao, we weep for our country,” said National Union of Peoples’ Lawyer, through its Secretary-General Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez.

NUPL is among the petitioners who went to the Supreme Court last month to raise the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216 issued by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 23 that imposed martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

The SC on Tuesday scrapped all the petitions against martial law declaration – 11 of the magistrates voted for the dismissal of the petitions; three said the petitions can be partially approved, and one said the petitions should be granted.

NUPL considered the SC decision as a big letdown, disappointment and fraught with greater dangers as it will ostensibly dilute what the group considered as the “already inadequate constitutional safeguards of the anti-dictatorship 1987 Constitution.”

It said: “those responsible for the sledgehammer solution to a legitimate problem must be made to account if not by law but by history particularly for the alarming increase of human rights violations in the Mindanao region.”

The martial law in Mindanao, the group added, will force ordinary citizens to “fend for themselves against abuses and excesses of governmental power no matter in whose name it is invoked.”

Despite the ruling, NUPL said it will continue to hold on to its position, reiterating that the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao has no sufficient factual basis.

The group said they are now mulling for the filing of a Motion for Reconsideration.

Decision condemned

Progressive lawmakers also expressed condemnation to the ruling made by SC by upholding the imposition of martial law in Mindanao.

Bayan Muna, a member of Makabayan block in the lower House, expressed fear martial law will apparently put the Filipino people at the hands of a de facto military junta.

“This is an ominous development that may place the country in an even more dangerous position. We could expect an emboldened military and police to commit more human rights violations and further endanger the lives of our people not just in Marawi but the whole of Mindanao,” Bayan Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate said.

Zarate also described the martial law as a “monster” that will target civilians and organizations considered as sympathetic and supportive of the CPP-NPA (Communist Party of the Philippines – New People’s Army) based on the provision of the Operational Directive Number 2-2017 of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.
Key task no. 3 of said directive made the NPAs as a target of the martial law.

“The Filipino people should be very vigilant and resist the further continuation of Martial Law in Mindanao or its extension to other parts of the Philippines,” Zarate said.

The Kabataan Party-list, on the other hand, condemned the SC decision saying the court “has joined the band of militarists, rightists and other groups who favor fascism.”

“The SC decision affirms one thing — that the ruling class, the ruling elites, is now held hostage by the US. It should be noted that Martial Law in Mindanao was consented by Duterte under pressure and prodding of the US-AFP, based on the unsubstantial basis,” Kabataan Partylist Rep. Sarah Elago said in a statement on Tuesday.

Elago added that Mindanao has been ridden with conflict because of decades of neglect.

“(The) US has been using the conflict to sow terrorism, to muddle the struggle of the Moro people’s right to self-determination and brand it as a terrorist act. This is when in fact, US-CIA is the brainchild of terrorism. Duterte had the chance to make a pivotal turn in history, and heed the democratic pleas of the Mindanao people, but he kowtowed to the prodding of the US and the AFP,” she stressed.

Meanwhile, Gabriela Women’s Party-list said the SC, with its decision, has pushed Filipino women and the people face a dark era with the three branches of the government.

It added that the decision also sets the ground for the arbitrary declaration of a nationwide martial law.
“We call on Filipino women and the people to vigorously defend human rights and civil liberties in the face of a looming full-blown dictatorial rule with the military at the helm,” the group said. (

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