THE Supreme Court yesterday voted to uphold the constitutionality of Malacanang’s Proclamation 216, extending martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.
In a briefing, SC Public Information Office (PIO) chief Brian Keith Hosaka announced the decision which was written by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang after the high court’s regular en banc session.
Nine magistrates voted to dismiss the four petitions questioning the proclamation while a minority of four justices voted against the suits.
“The Supreme Court ruled to uphold the constitutionality of the extension of the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2019,” Hosaka said.
Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin, Associate Justices Diosdado Peralta, Mariano del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Andres Reyes Jr., Alexander Gesmundo, Jose Reyes Jr., Ramon Paul Hernando and Carandang voted to dismiss the suits.
Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa were in the minority.
The four petitions were filed by lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, militant party-list lawmakers led by Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, a group led by former Comelec chair Christian Monsod, and that of indigenes from Mindanao assisted by the Free Legal Assistance Group (Flag).
They argued that the extension of martial law is unconstitutional as it failed to satisfy public safety requirement under the 1987 Constitution.
Last Dec. 12, Congress voted to re-extend the martial law in the region up to the end of this year.
State lawyers cited data from the Armed Forces of the Philippines on active terrorist groups.
The military said Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) still has as a total of 424 members with 473 firearms who are scattered in 138 barangays in Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi and Zamboanga On the other hand, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has 264 members with 254 firearms and affecting 50 barangays.
The Daesh-affiliated Maute, Maguid and Turaifie groups have around150 members with various firearms.
The report said they are scatted in at least 204 barangays in Mindanao.
He also noted that the New People’s Army continues to rise publicly and take up arms against the government. (PNA)