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Supreme Court orders submission of DND reports on Mindanao martial law

The Supreme Court (SC) wants to see Department of National Defense (DND) reports in connection with the implementation of martial law in Mindanao in 2018.

The justices on Tuesday ordered the Office of the Solicitor General to submit 15 sealed copies of the DND's monthly or periodic reports covering January 1 to December 31, 2018, not later than noon of Friday, January 25.

The reports, which are addressed to Congress, "involve highly sensitive and confidential matters affecting the security of the State," the SC said in a notice of resolution made public Wednesday.

The SC will then assess whether or not the said reports may only be discussed in an executive session, the notice stated.

When the Court was first deciding the constitutionality of the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao in 2017, the justices met with top security officials in a closed-door session.

President Rodrigo Duterte originally declared martial law in Mindanao when Marawi City in Lanao del Sur was occupied by Islamic State-inspired militants in May 2017. The city was declared liberated five months later.

But the President earned congressional approval to extend martial law in the region three times, the latest until the end of 2019. The SC upheld the legality of the original martial law declaration and of its extension to the end of 2018.

This time, the administration claims that rebellion -- a ground for martial law under the 1987 Constitution -- persists in Mindanao due to alleged hostilities by terrorist groups and communist rebels.

All four petitions challenging the martial law extension before the High Court contend the move is baseless and fosters an environment for human rights violations.

Oral arguments on the first three petitions assailing the martial law extension will be held on January 29. Another petition, the first by Mindanaoans directly affected by martial law, was filed on Wednesday. — RSJ, GMA News