MANILA, Philippines – On the second day of oral arguments on petitions seeking to nullify martial law in Mindanao, Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio said that he has yet to see any evidence of rebellion outside Marawi City that would justify the martial declaration in the whole of Mindanao.
While other justices focused on the clarification of operational guidelines, whether there should be a presumption of good faith on the part of the government, and who should carry the burden of proof, Carpio, said point-blank, "I have not seen any evidence that there's actual rebellion in other provinces in Mindanao."
"We're talking here of rebellion. Inside Marawi you can easily defend, but outside of Marawi, I have not seen any evidence that there's actual rebellion in Dinagat island, Camiguin island, Misamis, Pagadian, Lanao, Dapitan, and all these places," Carpio told Calida.
Calida, the government's main defender of the martial law declaration, said he would have to ask intelligence officers about cases of rebellion in other parts of Mindanao.
What is rebellion?
Still, Carpio hammered on the definition of an actual rebellion.
"Let us say a Maute fighter drops his gun and escapes to Iligan, can he be arrested?" Carpio asked.
"Rebellion is a continuing offense. The fact that he dropped his weapon, it doesn't mean it's not rebellion," Calida said.
However, Carpio pointed out to Calida that someone charged with rebellion can be arrested without warrant under the rules of court precisely because of what Calida said – that it is a continuing offense.
There is a legal doctrine which says that because rebellion is a continuing offense, a warrantless arrest is allowed even without martial law.
"But that is not the cause of the declaration of martial law," Carpio said.
Carpio asked more hypothetical questions and gave the example of 5 Maute snipers deployed to Manila to assassinate the security heads of the country, which led Calida to say: "If it's just assassination, it's not rebellion." (READ: SC's Del Castillo: Isn't Marawi siege act of rebellion?)
The Solicitor General also volunteered that "there could be conspiracy also in rebellion" and that "financiers" may be based in other places.
"Coddlers of rebels, of those who were part of the plan, they can be arrested anywhere also. The act of one is the act of all," Calida said.
During the interpellation, Carpio also noted the "threat" against media in General Order No. 1, which was released in connection with the enforcement of martial law. (DOCUMENTS: Read gov't releases on martial law in Mindanao)
"I saw in the general order that they are threatening media, I think that will not help." Calida was given time to review the general order and check what Carpio was referring to but the Senior Associate Justice chose to move on to another topic.