Solon hails SC verdict on ML as ‘rule of law at work’

MANILA -- Senator Sherwin Gatchalian on Wednesday chided members of the opposition for harshly criticizing the Supreme Court (SC) decision upholding the validity of the one-year extension of martial law in Mindanao saying the long deliberative process leading to the decision was a prime example of the rule of law at work.

The political opposition has been quick to brand the Supreme Court ruling, which upheld the validity of the extension of martial law, as the result of a failure of the rule of law. How can this be the case when the strict constitutional checks and balances that regulate the power to extend martial law have been observed in good faith? said Gatchalian, a stalwart of the Nationalist People's Coalition.

He said the process � starting with the recommendation of President Rodrigo Duterte to extend martial law, the approval of the extension during a joint session of Congress, and the SC's review of the extension � were all conducted exactly as required by the Constitution.

At the end of this long deliberative process, the three great branches of government have come to the same conclusion - that the extension of martial law is a just and necessary medicine to cure Mindanao of the violent extremism that has afflicted the island for so long, he added.

This is precisely the rule of law at work. The political opposition cannot simply proclaim its failure because they disagree with the result, Gatchalian said.

Political battles, he said, must be set aside to give way to the real life-and-death battles being fought by state forces on the front lines of the conflict.

With the SC decision, he said it is now time to form a united front in order to address terrorism once and for all.

I urge all Filipinos, regardless of political affiliation, to unite behind the government's efforts to defeat the rebellion and eradicate violent extremism. Only a united Filipino nation will be able to win the war and achieve lasting peace in Mindanao, Gatchalian said.

The SC on Tuesday, voting10-5, dismissed for lack of merit the consolidated petitions seeking to stop the one-year extension of martial law.

The justices maintained that the SC has no power to review the decision of Congress to grant the request of President Duterte for the one-year extension.

Congress granted the request for the extension last December 13, with the House of Representatives voting 226-23 and the Senate voting 14-4.

In its decision, the SC agreed that the the rebellion that spawned the Marawi incident persists and ruled that public safety requires the extension, as shown by facts presented by the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

The high court also ruled that there are safeguards against abuse under martial law implementation under the Constitution, dismissing as speculative the claims of human rights violations by the military.

Opposition lawmakers were quick to decry the verdict.

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the lead petitioner in the first bid challenging the year-long extension of martial rule in Mindanao, expressed fears that the SC verdict would embolden President Duterte in flouting the rule of law.

Senator Paolo Benigno Bam Aquino said he was saddened by the failure of the SC to uphold the spirit of People Power against martial law, at the same month that it is being celebrated.

Sa desisyong suportahan ang mahabang Martial Law, nabuksan ang pagdeklara ng Martial Law sa buong kapulungan na walang klarong basehan ng hangganan (The decision supporting Martial Law extension opens the possibility of uncertainty on how long will this be implemented), Aquino said.

On the other hand, Senate President Aquilino Koko Pimentel III as well as Senators Sonny Angara and Panfilo Lacson agreed with the SC decision.

Tama naman yan. (That is right.) They should defer to the political branches when it comes to matters like these, Pimentel said.

For his part, Angara said the SC decision was no longer surprising as Congress and the Executive branch are the ones tasked to tackle the issue of martial law declaration.

Meanwhile, Lacson shared his colleagues' opinions, saying that the matter of declaring martial law and extending the same is a political issue that is best resolved between the executive and legislative branches of government. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency