From Rappler (Jun 15): Lorenzana, Año show 'secret documents' in private session with SC justices
(UPDATED) Among the petitioners, only Albay First District Representative Edcel Lagman is allowed to join the closed-door meeting
SC MEETING. Supreme Court Spokesman Theodore Te updates the media on the request to hold an executive session with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP chief General Eduardo Año on June 15, 2017. Photo by Franz Lopez/Rappler
Supreme Court justices had a 6-hour private session with Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Philippine military chief General Eduardo Año on Thursday, June 15, the final day of oral arguments on petitions seeking to nullify President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Solicitor General Jose Calida told reporters in an interview Thursday afternoon that aside from himself, only petitioner Albay First District Edcel Lagman was allowed to join the closed-door meeting.
Calida said the justices were able to ask questions to Lorenzana and Año – administrator and implementer of martial law in Mindanao, respectively.
The Solicitor General added that the two were able to present intelligence information related to the Marawi crisis during the meeting.
"There was PowerPoint presentation, materials were given and they answered questions from the justices. It's different from the annexes, these are secret documents," said Calida, adding that some of the information are "updated."
He said "the government is confident," in its case.
Calida had earlier asked the High Court that Lorenzana and Año face the justices in an executive session, citing security concerns.
Earlier in the day, SC Spokesman Theodore Te described the meeting as an "internal discussion" between the top security officials and SC justices. It was still ongoing past 5 pm.
Asked whether it was considered as an executive session Te said late Thursday afternoon: "There's no such thing as an executive session as far as the Court is concerned. There is however a rule that allows the Court to exclude the public when, in the consideration of the Court, the information that will be disclosed may he prejudicial and detrimental."
On Thursday morning, Calida insisted that an executive session was needed for the country's top security officials because they would discuss "top secret" matters.
"There are others we cannot divulge to the public, the secrets of the operations so it must be an executive session," Calida said.
Lagman went out of the meeting around noontime but refused to give details of the discussion.
Petitioners had opposed the executive session, insisting that Lorenzana and Año should be part of the public proceedings.
"I think we should be given the opportunity to refute the basis for calling for accepted sessions. Because that is an exception. Matters of state should be publicly protected so that the people will have to know," Lagman said earlier.
Lawyer Marlon Manuel, representing the Marawi group of petitioners, said he considered it a positive step that the SC even called Lorenzana and Año, given that Calida's position was to put the burden of proof on them and not the government.
The parties were directed to submit their memoranda to the High Court on June 19.