Subject: NUPL Statement re Mindanao Martial law: A Dangerous Precedent Under Dangerous Times

04 July 2017
On SC vote re Mindanao Martial Law: A Dangerous Precedent Under Dangerous Times
In a statement released today, human rights lawyers from the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers (NUPL) said the Supreme Court vote dismissing the Petitions questioning the constitutionality of the declaration of Martial Law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao is a big letdown and disappointment fraught with even greater dangers as it apparently dilutes the already inadequate constitutional safeguards of the anti-dictatorship 1987 Constitution.
The NUPL is the counsel for the Petitioners in GR No. 231771 (Cullamat Petition) who are composed of Mindanao residents, leaders of peoples’ organizations and militant solons. The well-nuanced Cullamat Petition questioned the sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, and raised as a primordial issue of the constitutionality and legality of the declaration in the entire Mindanao region and not in Marawi alone.
“Today we weep for Mindanao, we weep for our country. Notwithstanding the declaration of martial law’s legality, those responsible for the sledgehammer solution to a legitimate problem must be made to account if not by law but by history particularly for the alarming increase of human rights violations in the Mindanao region,” Atty. Ephraim B. Cortez, NUPL Secretary-General said in a statement.
“Now, more than ever, we call on the Filipino people to remain critical and vigilant. If they can declare an expansive martial law in Mindanao based on alternative and magnified facts as well as exagerrated scenarios, they can do the same for the entire Philippines. It is a dangerous precedent not much unlike the Martial Law cases jurisprudence of the dictator Marcos Supreme Court, ” Atty. Cortez added.
The NUPL legal team shares the well-grounded anxiety that this gargantuan and dubious exercise of an extraordinary Executive power, prematurely applauded by the Legislature by default or sloth, and now arguably sanctioned by the Judiciary, bodes ill not only to those not covered by martial rule and its”tasks” but more so it leaves the ordinary people to fend for themselves against abuses and excesses of governmental power no matter in whose name it is invoked.
The NUPL stands by its position that there is no sufficient factual basis to resort to martial law in the entire Mindanao region and is mulling if a Motion for Reconsideration of the formal Decision is still in order, realistic or practical.#
Neri Javier Colmenares 
Ephraim B. Cortez 
Maria Cristina P. Yambot
Minerva F. Lopez 
Maneeka Sarza 
Kathy Panguban
Atty. Maria Cristina P. Yambot 
NUPL Public Information Officer 

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– Atty. Romeo T. Capulong, NUPL founding chairperson, in his keynote address at the Fifth Conference of Lawyers in Asia Pacific ( COLAP V), September 18, 2010