SC orders Lorenzana, Año to attend oral arguments on martial law

MANILA, Philippines – The Supreme Court on Wednesday, June 14, ordered Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Philippine military chief General Eduardo Año to appear before the High Court on the last day of oral arguments on petitions against martial law in Mindanao.

It is still unclear if Lorenzana and Año –  the administrator and implementer of martial law in Mindanao, respectively – will be interpellated on the floor on Thursday, June 15, or will meet with justices and petitioners privately since Solicitor General Jose Calida has requested for a closed-door session in this regard.

"May I request that the briefing be done privately for reasons of security?" Calida asked the High Court.

Albay First District Representative Edcel Lagman, a petitioner, quickly opposed Calida.

"We cross the bridge when we get there because we have reservations because of our experience with executive sessions in the House of Representatives. There was an omnibus executive session, and no confidential matter affecting national security was disclosed," Lagman said.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno stepped in and asked Calida to formally manifest which issues are to be treated confidentially, and which can go on record.

"Petitioners actually need to know, but to what extent they need to know, that is a matter that you can convey to us," Sereno told Calida.

It was Lagman who requested the presence of Lorenzana supposedly for Wednesday afternoon but Calida said it would be "more doable" on Thursday.

Lagman said that if Lorenzana cannot go, he may send his next highest representative. The same goes for Año.

"We have requested high ranking officials to be present before, this is not very strange," Sereno said and proceeded to ask Calida to bring Lorenzana and other key figures for Thursday's session.

The defense chief has not responded to Rappler's request for comment as of posting.

Sereno also asked Calida to submit additional relevant documents to the court, including Lorenzana's first arrest order under martial law, and Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II's order authorizing a probe into opposition leaders for an alleged destabilization plot. – Rappler.com

Lian Buan

Lian Buan covers justice and corruption for Rappler. She is interested in decisions, pleadings, audits, contracts, and other documents that establish a trail. If you have leads, email lian.buan@rappler.com or tweet @lianbuan.

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