Aguirre backs extension of martial law in Mindanao

MANILA-- Justice Secretary vitaliano Aguirre II on Wednesday expressed his support for President Rodrigo Duterte's proposal to extend Martial Law in Mindanao up to Dec. 31 this year.

The request of the President is very reasonable, justifiable, and since siya ang nakakaalam ng mas marami, I believe that we should give him the benefit of the doubt, that the extension of martial law be approved by Congress, Aguirre told reporters in a chance interview in DOJ.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a Palace briefing, said that in the letter sent by the President to the leaders of Congress Monday evening, the extension was called for as the existing rebellion in Mindanao will not be quelled completely by the July 22, the expiration of the 60-day period of the initial martial law proclamation.

The President has also called on Congress to convene in a special joint session Saturday to deliberate and consider his request.

So, the President asked the martial law be extended until the end of the year. Alam naman natin na ang talagang nakakaalam, napakaraming sources of information at ng intelligence reports ay ang Presidente. Even members of Congress, ng mga members of the judiciary, at kaming mga executive officers, limitado lang ang kaalaman namin tungkol dito, Aguirre added.

Martial law in Mindanao was imposed shortly after the May 23 attack of Maute Group terrorists in Marawi City..

As of Monday, military forces have killed 413 Maute Group terrorists, along with 98 security troops and 45 civilians.

Firearms recovered was placed at 511 and civilians rescued from the hands of terrorism hands are placed at 1,723.

Earlier, the Supreme Court dismissed the three consolidated petitions challenging the constitutionality of President Duterte's proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

The ruling, approved by a majority of 11 of 15 justices of the high court, dismissed the petitions led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman that there was no rebellion but only acts of terrorism and mere imminent danger, which would not suffice to meet the requirements for martial law declaration under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution.

The ruling penned by Associate Justice Mariano Del Castillo while 10 others justices concurred are Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo - De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Jose Mendoza, Bienvenido Reyes, Estela Perlas - Bernabe, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martires and Noel Tijam - and all submitted their concurring opinions.

The Court found that there was sufficient factual basis for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus over the whole of Mindanao, read the decision

Three justices voted to partially grant the petitions - Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio and Associate Justice Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa while Associate Justice Marvic Leonen voted to grant the petitions.

Two other petitions were filed by separate groups led by former Senators Rene Saguisag and Wigberto TaAada both seeking issuance of a mandamus that would compel Senate and the House of Representatives to convene jointly to review the declaration. The SC has yet to act on these petitions.

Source: Philippine News Agency