[JURIST] At least four justices on the Supreme Court of the Philippines [official website] believe the court should hear cases stemming from this month's imposition of martial law [Proclamation 1959 text, PDF] in the province of Maguindanao, despite petitions to declare those cases moot after martial law was lifted [JURIST report] on Saturday, ABS-CBN News [media website] reported [text] Monday. The unidentified sources, however, said the majority of judges would likely vote to reject the cases. The pending cases allege that the government engaged in warrantless searches and seizures and that detainees were held without charges for more than three days in violation of martial law under the Philippines Constitution [text]. Human rights lawyers from the Philippines, South Korea, Australia, and Japan asked the court [Manila Bulletin report] to hear those cases, warning that failure to hear them would set precedent allowing the president to temporary implement martial law and retract it in time to avoid penalties for abuses committed under it. Also on Monday, the Senate of the Philippines [official website] passed a resolution [text, PDF] condemning the decision of President Gloria Macapagal-Arroy [official website, BBC profile] to implement martial law as contrary to the constitution since it was not imposed in response to armed rebellion.
Last week, Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] Philippine authorities to establish a timetable to end martial law. The National Union of People's Lawyers (NUPL) [advocacy website] and other groups petitioned the Supreme Court to reject the declaration of martial law. The proclamation was announced [JURIST report] earlier this month, and is a result of instability in the province following a politically motivated attack that left 57 dead last month. Government authorities earlier this month arrested several suspects [BBC report] in connection with the attack, including Maguindanao Governor Andal Ampatuan Sr., and subsequently discovered an "arsenal of weapons" buried nearby. Military officials believed that rebels loyal to the Ampatuan family intended to launch a rebellion. The family is suspected of ordering the November 23 attack [AFP report] against political rival Esmael Mangudadatu, who was traveling with family, aides, and journalists to file as a candidate in an upcoming gubernatorial election.