The Supreme Court on Tuesday heard the oral arguments on the petitions challenging the extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In his opening statement, Solicitor General Jose Calida stressed that the High Court cannot issue a restraining order stopping the martial law extension because the tribunal’s power of review is “limited only to the determination of whether there is sufficient factual basis for the extension of the President’s martial law proclamation”.
The OSG pointed out that the Commander-in-Chief powers of the President over the military can only be balanced by the act of Congress and that the SC cannot cannot override or diminish a power expressly granted to the President by the Constitution.
The top government counsel also pointed out that the extension of martial law was not declared by the president on a whim.
“It is founded on the harsh reality that rebels and terrorists continue to operate openly,planning,plotting,and attacking military and civilians alike in Mindanao. Like pests, to root them out and stop the violence they are inflicting would take maximum effort and resources of the state,” Calida noted.
Calida also stressed that the government cannot let its guard down against lawless elements, noting that terrorism and rebellion continues to cast dark shadows on the country, thus the need to brace for a long struggle to defeat it.
“What we have is an opportunity to end rebellion and terrorism and procure for ourselves and generations to come a lasting peace. Our resolve to protect the people must be even greater than the will of those who seek to destroy the peace loving Filipinos’ way of life. Let us not be lulled into complacency by thinking that the rebels have finally laid down their arms and realized that only peace can move the country forward and bring lasting benefits for everyone,” he stressed.
Maj. Gen. Pablo Lorenzo, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence, for his part, told the High Court that communist terror groups in Mindanao remains a continuing national security concern, and clarified the goals of the military in the area.
“It’s not the killing of every single rebel out there, rather it is the attainment of the level of security whereby the groups cannot impose their will on the people or they are no longer effective as far as fulfilling their political goals,” Lorenzo added.
Lorenzo added that empowered by martial law, government security forces have continued to make significant headway.
He said around 530 members of terror groups and six high-value terrorists have either been killed or arrested or surrendered.
The AFP official also said that after 20 months since martial law was declared in the region, rebellion still exists and security remains in peril. (PNA)
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