Displaying items by tag: martial law

Government ready to punish those who commit abuses under martial law

By Alexis Romero (philstar.com)

Photo: Armored Personnel Carriers drive to the frontline in the continuing assaults to retake control of some areas of Marawi city Sunday, May 28, 2017 in southern Philippines. Philippine forces launched fresh airstrikes Sunday to drive out militants linked to the Islamic State group after days of fighting left corpses in the streets and hundreds of civilians begging for rescue from a besieged southern city. AP/Bullit Marquez


MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang is ready to prosecute and to punish those who commit abuses under the martial law in Mindanao even as it urged critics to be “considerate” in their judgment of the efforts of security forces on the ground.

The Integrated Bar of the Philippines Lanao del Sur Chapter has claimed that the military rule in Mindanao, which was imposed by President Rodrigo Duterte last May 23 after a series of terrorist attacks in Marawi, has led to abuses like warrantless searches of houses and commercial establishments.

The lawyers’ group said government forces in Mindanao also ransacked and illegally intruded into residential and commercial establishments and disregarded the plain view doctrine in searches and seizures.

According to the group, the military and police disregarded the right against deprivation of property without due process of law, the right to be secure in one's person, house, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures and the privacy of communication and correspondence of innocent civilians.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella maintained that the government does not condone any form of abuses or illegal activity.

“We will investigate and if evidence warrants, prosecute and punish all those who committed abuses, especially sexual violence against women,” Abella said in a statement on Saturday.

“The President, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police, and the Department of National Defense Secretary, who is the Mindanao administrator for martial law, do not encourage or tolerate abuses by the military or the police in Mindanao or elsewhere,” he added.

Abella cited a recent statement by the Commission on Human Rights that it has yet to find evidence of abuse in areas under martial law.

“Should there be, proper complaints must be properly filed,” the presidential spokesman said.

Abella appealed to critics to support the government forces’ efforts to secure the areas plagued by terrorists.

“Unless based on fact and evidence, we ask critics and advocates to be more considerate in their judgment of the efforts and context of our soldiers’ challenges and be more supportive of their efforts to protect the Filipino way of life,” he said.

In a press conference in Davao City last Friday, Abella called on critics to “grow up” and to be “more sophisticated.”

“We are actually supposed to be united against a common enemy. And actually, what we are having is, somebody trying to establish a state within a state,” Abella said, referring to the Islamic State.

“That is a clear and present danger. You know, what don’t you get about that? You know, I think it is about time that we really just grew up and became more mature, and became more politically more sophisticated and actually, aside from that, we’re really just more concerned and supportive of one another,” he added.

Abella also clarified that the government is providing enough support to security forces in Marawi after the military launched its “Support our Troops” campaign.

The campaign, which was being led by the Armed Forces Civil Relations Service, involves the selling of statement shirts meant to drum up public support for soldiers in the battlefield.

“The government has provided enough assistance to the families of our fallen soldiers,” Abella said.

“The Support Our Troops Campaign is an initiative of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to boost the morale of our soldiers in the battlefield by showing that fellow Filipinos rally behind Filipino soldiers in fighting the terrorist rebels in Marawi,” he added.

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Palace: Rody will adhere to rule of law on ML

By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) 

 

Photo: President Duterte peers through the scope of a sniper rifle as he led the inspection of firearms recovered by troops during his visit to the 4th Infantry Division advance command post in Butuan City the other day.

 

MANILA, Philippines - Despite his threat that he would no longer listen to anyone if he declares martial law for the second time, President Duterte’s readiness to pull out troops from Marawi City if the Supreme Court orders him to do so indicates his respect for the rule of law, Malacañang said yesterday.

Speaking to the media in Butuan City last Saturday, Duterte said he would withdraw military forces from Marawi if the SC will declare that his martial law declaration has no factual basis.

The President, however, warned that if violence erupts anew in Mindanao and he declares martial law again, he would do it his way and would no longer listen to anyone.

He said the martial law he would declare could even be a “copycat” of that of former president Ferdinand Marcos, who has been accused of condoning human rights violations and silencing his critics.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella, however, made no mention of Duterte’s warning in the statement he issued yesterday, focusing only on the President’s willingness to pull out troops in Marawi.

“The President’s media interview (on June 17) after visiting the troops in Butuan underscores that he adheres to the rule of law and judicial independence,” Abella said.

“President Duterte made it clear that if the Supreme Court decides against the declaration of martial law, he would pull out the military in Marawi City on the ground that the high court does not believe there is a rebellion,” he added.

Abella reiterated though that Duterte is ready to declare martial law if “public safety requires it.”

“The President likewise made it clear that if and when there is another similar incident of rebellion… the President and commander-in-chief would again declare martial law and (exercise) police power given to the executive by no less than our Constitution,” the Palace spokesman said.

Duterte placed the whole Mindanao under martial law last May 23 after Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists attacked Marawi to protect Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon from government forces.

Members of the opposition and some non-government organizations have challenged the martial law declaration before the SC, believing there is no sufficient basis to place the entire island under military rule.

The military claimed that the number of Maute terrorists is dwindling but officials could not say when martial law would be lifted. Duterte has said the martial law declaration would not be lifted until the fighting in Marawi stops.

Duterte maintained that the Maute terrorists have committed rebellion with the help of drug syndicates and warlords. He has also assailed those who question his claim that Mindanao is plagued with rebellion.

“What do you think? What do you want? That they devour half of Mindanao before we can call if a true blue rebellion?” he said last Saturday.

“They think the government is not doing anything right. Everything that we do is wrong and most of the time, they are the crybabies,” he added.

Asked when he would lift martial law, Duterte said: “Hindi matatapos ang martial law hanggang hindi natatapos ang putukan (Martial law won’t be lifted until the fighting is over).”

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SC's Bersamin says trust Duterte on martial law

MANILA – Just "trust the good judgment of the President," Supreme Court (SC) Associate Justice Lucas Bersamin said during oral arguments on Tuesday, June 13, – if petitioners are unable to produce proof that shows there is insufficient basis to declare martial law.
"I believe that the proclamation may be sufficient," Bersamin said, adding that he is willing to presume good faith and regularity on the part of government in the absence of evidence indicating otherwise.
During his interpellation of lawyer Ephraim Cortez during Day 1 of oral arguments on President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao, Bersamin emphasized that the burden of proof of showing the proclamation is invalid falls on the petitioners.
"Make an argument on the burden of proof," Bersamin told Cortez, "because this is a big thing for me." He grilled Cortez, asking him what standard of proof the High Court should impose – is it the magnitude of killing, damage to property, magnitude of violence, or the number of bodies?
"What do we need to review? You are not providing us material to review," Bersamin told Cortez, who maintained that because of the SC's constitutional power to review the basis of martial law, it can compel even President Duterte, to provide the necessary information.
"I cannot compel the President, you know that very well," Bersamin retorted.
Bersamin got Cortez to agree that in the absence of a clear standard, the determination of whether there is sufficient basis for the declaration of martial law is up to the good judgment of the High Court.
Bersamin followed with: "You leave that to the good judgment of the court, as you would leave the proclamation of martial law to the good judgment of the President." (READ: SC's Del Castillo: Isn't Marawi siege act of rebellion?)
 
'Passive institution'
"You don't tell us the facts you want to be put (in the martial law report). You know this is a passive institution, we cannot go out like the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] or the police to gather the facts. We are not in that business," Bersamin said.
Cortez, however, said, "Our basis is to dispute the facts upon which the declaration is based. As a general rule, we are not duty-bound to prove our negative allegation and it is up to the government to prove the basis of the declaration of martial law."
Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco echoed Bersamin's line of thinking in his own interpellation of lawyer Marlon Manuel, who is representing the Marawi group of petitioners.
"There's no attachment at all in your petition of any document that would tell the Court that there's probably no truth to the statements in the proclamation. You have only made a very bare assertion that there is no sufficient or actual basis, and this, to me, is not proof at all," Velasco said.
Manuel replied that what they are alleging in their petition is the "non-existence of factual basis," so they will be unable to present documents to prove that.
Velasco pounded on Manuel, asking whether they exerted effort to verify the truth in the facts cited in Duterte's martial law report.
"Only to the extent we can," Manuel said, explaining that the petitioners have been at the receiving end of the proclamation.
When Velasco asked again if they verified facts, Manuel said that as residents of Marawi City, they had to evacuate to Iligan City after the crisis. 
 
Checks and balances
In an interview after the oral arguments, Manuel said the SC should have the power to find the evidence or at least compel evidence from the relevant government agencies, precisely because they were given the constitutional power to review factual basis for the proclamation.
"The SC should have their own procedure. If the Court requires the presence of the Secretrary of Defense, they can do that, because they have been impleaded, they can be summoned anytime," Manuel said.
"The 1987 Constitution, precisely may checks and balances mechanism na nilagay kasi sa karanasan natin hindi mapagkakatiwalaan ang Presidente noon na naglagay sa Pilipinas sa mahabang panahon ng martial law, kaya nagkaroon sa Constitution ng maraming layers ng review mechanisms," Manuel said.
(The 1987 Constitution has a checks-and-balances mechanism precisely because of our experience where we could not trust the President then, who put the Philippines under martial rule for a long time, that's why the Constitution has many layers of review mechanisms.)
Nevertheless, Velasco still asked the petitioners to submit to the SC documents which will support at least their allegations that some of the statements in Duterte's martial law reports are false.
 
Hearsay evidence
The main basis of the petitions in belying some of the claims in the report – such as the denied takeover of the Amai Pakpak Medical Center – are fact-check reports from news outfits.
Solicitor General Jose Calida had said in his consolidated comment, however, that news reports are inadmissible evidence because they are hearsay.
Asked how he thinks the petitioners fared on Day 1 of the oral arguments, Calida said: "I've seen better days."
Calida is also set to argue before the High Court that the petitions suffer from "fatal procedural defects" that warrant their outright dismissals. One of these technical loopholes, Calida said, is the absence of an Mandatory Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) number from one of the petitioners' lawyers, constitutionalist Christian Monsod.
"This is a very important issue of public national interest, I don't think the SC will look at technicalities," Manuel said. – Rappler.com
 
 
 
 
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