Sitting en banc, the Supreme Court (SC) has upheld the year-long second extension of martial rule in Mindanao. In a 10-5 vote, the high tribunal dismissed for lack of merit the consolidated petitions of former Commission on Elections chairman Christian Monsod, former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales, the group of congressmen led by Albay 1st District Rep. Edcel Lagman, and another group led by Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate and Anakpawis Rep. Ariel Casilao seeking to stop the one-year re-extension of martial law.
Agreeing with the position of Solicitor General Jose Calida, the magistrates held that the SC has no power to review the decision of Congress to grant the request of President Duterte to extend martial law in Mindanao for another year. It opined that each House of Congress has full discretionary authority to formulate, adopt, and promulgate its own rules and that the exercise of this power is generally exempt from judicial supervision and interference from the judicial branch of government. The Court also explained that it could only step in once there is clear showing of arbitrary and improvident use of power by Congress under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution, which it said was absent in this case.
The high court also rejected the argument of petitioners that the extension should only have been limited to 60 days, saying that the Constitution does not set a limit to the number of times Congress can extend martial law declaration by the President. The SC likewise ruled that the factual bases for the martial law declaration remain in Mindanao, citing the facts submitted by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) during oral arguments in the past month.