Petitioners seeking to nullify the declaration of martial law in Mindanao should be sent to Marawi City, Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III said Tuesday.
“Padala na lang lahat ng kontra sa Marawi. Sila tumapos ng gulo,” Sotto said in a text message when sought for comment on the petitioners’ arguments before the Supreme Court (SC).
President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao three weeks ago after the Maute group’s attack in Marawi City. Clashes between government forces and the Maute group aided by foreign militants have claimed the lives of over 200 people.
In his opening statement during the oral arguments in the SC, Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman said acts of terrorism “are not necessarily equivalent to actual rebellion and the consequent requirement of securing public safety” to justify the imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus.
“No less than Justice Secretary [Vitaliano II] Aguirre admitted that acts of terrorism do not automatically constitute rebellion. It is for this reason that the Human Security Act of 2007 (Republic Act 9372), was enacted to punish acts of terrorism,” Lagman said.
But Sotto said the petitioners just have no solid argument against the martial law declaration.
“It’s the same, because the terrorists are aided by the rebels and are rebelling against the government. It’s like saying that suicide does not equate to death! Wala lang masabi!” Sotto said.
“They (Maute) are using terrorism to foster rebellion. It’s as simple as that!” he added.
Sotto, one of the senators who authored a resolution supporting martial law, earlier said the group of opposition congressmen led by Lagman questioned the martial law declaration because they were “anti-Duterte.”
For his part, Senator JV Ejercito also rejected the argument of Lagman’s group that terrorism does not equate to rebellion.
“Hindi ko alam kung ano pa ang pwedeng itawag doon kasi halos tinake-over na ng Maute group yung Marawi,” Ejercito said.
“We are not dealing with ordinary criminals here. These are rebels. they are funded, and internationally-connected,” he added.