In a majority vote, the Supreme Court on Tuesday affirmed President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Eleven justices voted to uphold the president’s declaration over all of Mindanao, said Supreme Court spokesperson Theodore Te in a press briefing.
Three others voted to limit the declaration to Marawi City, the conflict zone. A lone justice, meanwhile, voted to nullify the proclamation altogether.
The decision validated Duterte’s declaration on May 23, when he placed the entire Mindanao under military rule following clashes between government troops and Islamic State-inspired Maute and Abu Sayyaf group terrorists in the Islamic city of Marawi.
It dismissed several petitions that questioned the basis of the president’s declaration.
The ruling stands as the first on the merits of a martial law declaration under Article 7, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, which provides safeguards against a repeat of an abusive military rule seen during the time of deposed strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Te did not disclose details on how justices voted, but several ABS-CBN sources said the vote was as follows:
IN FAVOR OF THE MARTIAL LAW IN MINDANAO:
Associate Justice Presbitero J. Velasco, Jr.
Associate Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro
Associate Justice Diosdado M. Peralta
Associate Justice Lucas P. Bersamin
Associate Justice Mariano C. Del Castillo
Associate Justice Jose C. Mendoza
Associate Justice Bienvenido L. Reyes
Associate Justice Estela M. Perlas-Bernabe
Associate Justice Francis H. Jardeleza
Associate Justice Samuel R. Martires
Associate Justice Noel G. Tijam
IN FAVOR OF MARTIAL LAW ONLY IN MARAWI CITY AND NEARBY AREAS:
Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio
Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa
NO FACTUAL BASIS FOR MARTIAL LAW DECLARATION:
Associate Justice Marvic Leonen
In justifying his declaration, President Duterte had told Congress in a report that the extremists were planning to create an Islamic State province in Mindanao.
The state offensive continues, with more than 461 now dead, among them 337 terrorists, 85 government forces, and 39 civilians.
Several petitioners- opposition lawmakers, leftist leaders and four women from Marawi City- had asked the high court to invalidate the martial law declaration over all of Mindanao, saying there was no basis for military rule.
They asserted that the President could have addressed the crisis even without declaring martial law, saying the conflict was confined within Marawi City.
During oral arguments from June 13 to 15, magistrates sought government’s clarification on the President’s reasons for placing all of Mindanao under martial rule amid clashes between state troops and terrorists in Marawi City.
Solicitor General Jose Calida insisted that “all the elements of rebellion were present” when Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216. The President also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus to allow police to make warrantless arrests of terror suspects.
The President had previously said that he would respect the decision of the Supreme Court.
In 2009, several petitioners questioned then President Gloria Arroyo’s declaration of martial law in Maguindanao following the massacre of 57 people, mostly journalists, in the province on Nov. 23 of the same year.
At the time, Arroyo cited a threat of an uprising by loyal followers of the Ampatuan family, suspects in the gruesome murders.
The cases were junked for being moot as Arroyo lifted her declaration after just eight days, even before Congress could review her proclamation. — with reports from Ina Reformina