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Lagman on SC decision upholding martial law: ‘Supreme even in error’

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“The majority of the Supreme Court justices can be supreme even in their error.”

That was how Albay first-district Rep. Edcel Lagman, the lead petitioner in the first petition challenging the year long extension of martial law in Mindanao, reacted to the 10-5 decision of the high court validating the extension.

“When the majority of the justices of the Supreme Court fall in cadence with the President and the Congress in violating the Constitution, then the country is abandoned in the quagmire of tripartite derogation of the people’s civil liberties,” Lagman said in a statement.

The Magnificent 7 lawmaker said the Supreme Court’s decision will “embolden President Rodrigo Duterte in flouting the rule of law because he can seek refuge behind the robes of majority of the Supreme Court justices.”

“From all constitutional angles, the extension of martial law and suspension of the writ for one more year in Mindanao has no sufficient factual anchorage because Proclamation No. 216 has become functus officio after the Armed Forces of the Philippines has decimated the leadership and membership of the Maute-Abu Sayyaf terrorist groups, the principal, if not the sole target, of the martial law declaration,” he said.

Lagman added, :This led the President to declare the liberation of Marawi and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana to announce that all combat operations have been terminated way back in October 2017.”

He also noted the composition of judges who voted in favor or against the petition.

“Four of the 10 justices who voted for the extension are recent appointees of the President and another four of the concurring justices are possible contenders to replace Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno who is facing impeachment proceedings,” Lagman said.

The 10 who affirmed the constitutionality of the martial law extension were Associate Justices Presbitero Velasco Jr., Teresita Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Mariano Del Castillo, Estela Perlas-Bernabe, Samuel Martires, Andres Reyes Jr. and Alexander Gesmudo.

The five dissenting magistrates are Sereno, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio, Associate Justices Marvic Leonen, Francis Jardeleza and Alfredo Caguioa.