Justices ask military: When is rebellion quelled?

Kristine Joy Patag - Philstar.com
Justices ask military: When is rebellion quelled?
This is the third time that President Rodrigo Duterte's martial law will undergo the scrutiny of the Supreme Court.
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MANILA, Philippines — Justices asked the government to define when it could be said that rebellion — a prerequisite of the Constitution for martial law — has been quelled and recommend the lifting of military rule in Mindanao.

AFP chief Lt. Gen. Benjamin Madrigal told the court during the oral arguments that the military defines “destruction of the enemy” when they have “reduced the enemy 30 percent.”

The enemy’s capability is measured in terms of manpower, firearms, support system (such as controlled barangays) and violent incidents.

Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza asked Madrigal what it means to the military when the enemy’s capability is reduced to 30 percent.

Madrigal said that it meant that the capability was “brought down to level of law enforcement or the police can take the lead.”

When the military attains that, Madrigal said, “we would gladly recommend the lifting of martial law.”

Jardeleza cited a letter of current peace process adviser Gen. Carlito Galvez’s to Duterte where he said: “[Local terrorist groups’] manpower and firepower have been reduced by 62% and 45% respectively.”

Galvez is the retired AFP chief.

The letter, as quoted by Jardeleza, continued: “On the other hand, the [Communist terrorist groups’] manpower and firepower have been reduced by 31 percent and 38 percent, respectively.”

Solicitor General Jose Calida echoed Madrigal’s statement and said: “If they can reduce the capability to 30 percent, then they can recommend [lifting of martial law].”

Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa, for his part, asked the military when they could say that rebellion has been quelled.

“It’s not the killing of every single rebel out there when we can say that the rebellion no longer exists. Rather, it is the attainment of a level of security whereby different threat groups can no longer be effective as far as attaining their political objectives,” Major General Pablo Lorenzo, AFP deputy chief of staff for intelligence, said.

READ: Justice Caguioa: What is military's basis for tagging Abu Sayyaf for acts with unknown culprits?

Presence of Maute in other areas

Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio posed one question to the military: “Is there an ongoing armed rebellion in Marawi City?”

Lorenzo replied: “Not in Marawi City, your honor.”

This is the third time that the Duterte administration is extending martial law in Mindanao under Proclamation No. 216.

The presidential proclamation particularly cited the Maute terrorist group taking over a hospital in Marawi City, burning down government facilities and flying the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria on May 23, 2017.

“This recent attack shows the capability of the Maute group and other rebel groups to sow terror, and cause death and damage to property not only in Lanao del Sur but also in other parts of Mindanao,” the proclamation further reads.

Carpio later turned to Calida and asked whether there is an ongoing rebellion or armed rebels that had skirmish with government forces in Davao City.

The government’s chief lawyer replied that he has no personal knowledge of the presence of Maute rebels in Davao City, but there is “ongoing rebellion” committed by the New People’s Army.

Carpio stressed: “But you are defending martial law throughout Mindanao but you are not sure whether the Maute or the ISS are operating in Davao City?”

The solicitor general replied that he has no personal knowledge but would research on the matter.

The SC adjourned the oral arguments after four hours and ordered the parties to submit their respective memorandum on February 4.

READ: Mindanao martial law: Similar petitions, slightly different SC

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