Philippine opposition lawmakers petitioned the Supreme Court [official website] on Monday to reject President Rodrigo Duterte‘s [BBC profile] imposition of martial law. Duterte declared martial law on May 23 when heavily armed militants linked to the Islamic State [BBC profile] took over [JURIST report] large parts of Marawi City, a provincial capital in the predominantly Roman Catholic country. Six House lawmakers, led by Representative Edcel Lagman [official profile], said [AP report] those allied with Duterte should have held joint sessions to evaluate the constitutionality of the President’s declaration. The petitioners said the claims that militants took over a hospital and decapitated a local police chief were incorrect. The also asserted that the conflict was caused by a government operation to capture a high-profile militant commander and not an unprompted uprising. Critics of Duterte’s declaration of martial law say it parallels [AFP report] former dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ rise to power. The martial law declaration has raised suspicions as to whether Duterte has other motivations, as he has introduced the prospect of martial law several times in connection with his deadly attempt to suppress drug sales in the Philippines. Duterte said he would ignore any opposition from the Supreme Court on the issue. The Supreme Court has 30 days to make a decision regarding the petition.
More than 8,000 people have reportedly been killed over drug-related offenses since Duterte took office last year. Numerous rights groups have been critical of the killings and have spoken out against the current administration. Early in March Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] released a report that accused the police of falsifying evidence [JURIST report] in relation to the alleged police killings of citizens. This policy of sanctioned killings has been part of Duterte’s rhetoric since his time as mayor of Davao City. In December a UN Human rights chief called for a murder investigation [JURIST report] after Duterte admitted to killing people in his role as mayor.