New petition against martial law extension filed before supreme court

– A fourth petition that seeks to invalidate the one-year extension of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao was filed with the Supreme Court (SC) before the close of office hours on Friday.

Former Commission on Elections chair and 1986 constitutional commission member Christian Monsod, Dinagat Islands Rep. Arlene Bag-ao, and several private individuals filed the petition.

Like the earlier petitioners, they argued that there is no more ground present to justify the continuation of martial rule in Mindanao with the end of offensives against terrorists in conflict-stricken Marawi City.

“Since combat in Mindanao has been terminated, there is no more cause to re-extend martial law in Mindanao,” the petition read.

The petition also pointed out that the approval of the second extension was made by Congress despite the “very limited time given to legislators to propound searching questions to respondent Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Secretary of National Defense and other resource persons of the government.”

President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 on May 23, 2017 placing Mindanao under martial law after a series of attacks by the Islamic State-inspired Maute group in Marawi City.

Congress extended the declaration up to December 31 last year on his request, before it was further extended for a year last December 13 despite the end of hostilities in Marawi City in October.

The five-month siege had left more than 1,000 dead, mostly terrorists, displaced more than 300,000 from the city and nearby areas, and ravaged the once bustling urban and cultural capital. Rehabilitation efforts are underway.

Duterte had cited remaining security threats in Mindanao for seeking to extend martial rule until the end of 2018.

In the petition, Monsod’s group sought the immediate issuance of a temporary restraining order to stay the further implementation of martial rule in Mindanao.

The high court has set oral arguments on January 16 and 17 on the three previous petitions filed by minority lawmakers and former Commission on Human Rights chair Etta Rosales against the second martial law extension.