The SC held the first of the two-day oral arguments on the petitions challenging President Rodrigo Duterte's year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao on January 16. Four groups of petitioners sought to the high court to ask extension as unconstitutional.
AP/Bullit Marquez, file
Monsod tells SC democracy is on the line during martial law hearing
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) - January 16, 2018 - 9:00pm
MANILA, Philippines — Constitutional expert Christian Monsod on Tuesday warned that the "death of democracy" would follow if the Supreme Court fails to enact its duty to review the sufficiency of factual basis of the declaration of martial law.
 
"If Supreme Court reneges of this responsibility, it will lead to death of democracy," he said.
 
Monsod, one of the petitioners challenging the constitutionality of year-long extension in Mindanao, was also one of the drafters of the 1987 Constitution.
 
The SC held the first of the two-day oral arguments on the petitions challenging President Rodrigo Duterte's year-long extension of martial law in Mindanao on January 16.
 
Monsod stressed: "We appeal to the Supreme Court: Exercise the power of judicial review in a dynamic, expansive manner especially when the Congress fails in its broader responsibility not only to determine sufficiency but also its wisdom."
 
He, along with the other petitioners, claim that Duterte's year-long extension has no factual basis and should be declared unconstitutional.

SC asked: Define martial law, military force

Under the Constitution, the president may declare martial law "in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it."
 
Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, also one of the petitioners, asked the SC to "define martial law" in his opening statement.
 
Hilbay raised that the Constitution "makes a clear distinction between military force against martial law." He stressed that the President has calling out powers, as mandated by the Constitution, to address terrorist forces.
 
He warned that the state of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus "involve the curtailment of civil rights and individual freedoms."

'Imagined peril'

In his respective opening statement, Rep. Neri Colmenares, who also leads a group of human rights lawyers-petitioners, implored the high court not to be swayed by "imagined or magnified peril."
 
Colmenares also raised that during the Zamboanga siege in 2013, the military pursued the rebels, conducted aerial bombings and massive checkpoints even without martial law.
 
"What martial law power does government actually want with this inordinately extensive extension?" Colmenares said, adding: "Why impose military rule when [the] civilian government continues to function?"
 
He also warned that if martial law can be imposed without meeting the constitutional requirement there might be martial law nationwide as "we have rebellion nationwide."
 
"Government apparently relishes a hidden agenda. This martial law powers not supposed for armed rebels but for critics and dissenters," he added.
 
Colmenares, in his filed petition, earlier said that the inclusion of quelling the NPA forces as ground of extension, it "opens floodgates" for attacks against any individual.
 
He added: "Historical and contemporary experience indubitably prove that the monster of martial law has targeted and will target civilians who have no participation at all in any armed uprising or struggle."
 
This was also echoed by Rep. Edcel Lagman (Albay) in his opening statement. He stressed that the 50-year-long insurgency does not impose a threat to civil governments.
 
"The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army has no popular support nor capacity to defeat government forces," Lagman added.

MARTIAL LAW
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