Bersamin defends SC ruling upholding martial law extension

Bersamin defends SC ruling upholding martial law extension
Photo shows Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin in an ambush interview with reporters. Bersamin and eight other justices of the Supreme Court voted to uphold the constitutionality of the third extension of martial law in Mindanao.
The STAR / Elizabeth Marcelo

MANILA, Philippines — Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin on Thursday defended the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding martial law extension despite “inaccuracies” on government report pointed out by justices during the oral arguments.

The STAR reported that Bersamin, speaking to reporters at the Sandiganbayan, said: “Accuracy is not the question here. The question is what the information that the President acted upon.”

The chief justice was also quoted as saying that the inconsistencies were “not sufficient” to reverse the president’s determination of the need for martial law in the region.

It was also reported that the chief justice said that Duterte and the Congress “were able to establish sufficient factual basis for extending the proclamation of martial law.”

The SC, in an en banc session on Tuesday, voted 9-4 to affirm the constitutionality of the third extension of martial law.

It junked four consolidated petitions, from two sets of lawmakers, human rights lawyers and residents of Mindanao.

The tribunal has yet to make the full text copy of the decision public as of this posting.

During the one-day oral arguments held on January 29, justices zeroed in on the military reports that supposedly prove that rebellion—the Constitution’s prerequisite as factual basis for martial law—exists in Mindanao.

Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa pointed out that the government reports include incidents that failed to identify perpetrators or the motives behind them.

Caguioa specifically cited that there were 66 incidents, along with seven involving improvised explosive devices, where the report did not identify the perpetrators.

“Since these reports were made at the time indicated, would you be in a position to submit any update by which you were able to identify the perpetrators?” the justice said.

Meanwhile, Associate Justice Francis Jardeleza asked the government to give a definition on when they consider that rebellion has been quelled.

Jardeleza and Caguioa dissented from the majority voting. They are joined by Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen.

The main ruling is penned by Associate Justice Rosmari Carandang. — Kristine Joy Patag with reports from The STAR/Elizabeth Marcelo

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