MANILA, Philippines – 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 Rep. 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 to revoke the martial law proclamation.
Duterte made the declaration May 23 after extremists allied with the Islamic State group 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 flag of the Islamic State group in several areas.
But the petitioners said the military acknowledged the conflict in Marawi was precipitated by an attempt by troops to 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 was “flawed” because Duterte “acted alone without the benefit of a recommendation from Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana or from any ranking officer of the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” as Lorenzana acknowledged during congressional briefings.