Speaker vows to defy SC if it orders joint session on martial law
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday said the lower house would defy the Supreme Court if the latter orders Congress to convene to tackle the martial law report of President Rodrigo Duterte.
Alvarez was asked for his reaction to the petitions lodged before the Supreme Court questioning the factual basis of the President’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao and asking the judiciary to compel Congress to convene on the President’s report to Congress.
In an interview with reporters, Alvarez said the judiciary as a co-equal branch of the legislature has no jurisdiction to “dictate” Congress on what to do.
Alvarez said there is no point in convening Congress to tackle the martial law proclamation if both chambers resolved to support the declaration and find no reason to revoke it.
“Hindi ko alam anong logic meron. Eh nagpasa na majority ng Senado supporting the declaration of martial law. Nagpasa ng resolution ang House of Representatives majority supporting the declaration of martial law. Magconvene ka ng joint session, ano pag-uusapan natin?” Alvarez said.
(I don’t get the logic there. Senate already passed a resolution supporting martial law. Majority in the House of Representatives also passed a resolution supporting it. If we convene on joint session, what else will we talk about?)
He even said he would tear any directive from the Supreme Court if the latter orders Congress to convene, chiding the petitioners even to go back to their law books and read up on the separate powers of the legislature and judiciary.
“Balikan muna nila ‘yung law books. How can the Supreme Court dictate Congress what to do? Co-equal body ‘yan. Mag-issue ng direktiba ang Supreme Court telling Congress, dictating Congress mag-convene kayo ng joint session, punitin ko ‘yan,” Alvarez said.
(The petitioners should review their law books. How can the Supreme Court dictate Congress what to do? They are co-equal bodies. If the Supreme Court will issue a directive telling Congress, dictating Congress to convene on joint session, I will tear that to pieces.)
Asked about the possibility of a constitutional crisis if Congress would defy the Supreme Court, Alvarez said that is sure to happen but the lower house should not be faulted for it.
“Talagang magkakaroon ng constitutional crisis. At hindi namin kasalanan ‘yun (There will surely be a constitutional crisis, but that is not our fault anymore),” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said he has forwarded to the Office of the Solicitor General the petitions and the position of the lower house that the Supreme Court has no jurisdiction over Congress on the martial law declaration.
He said the petitioners – who include members of the independent minority bloc in the House questioning the factual basis of the proclamation – only wanted to “grandstand” during the joint session.
“Basta kami hindi kami susunod. Kung ano sasabihin ng Supreme Court diyan, dahil wala silang karapatan para diktahan ang Kongreso kung ano ang dapat namin gawin,” Alvarez maintained.
(We will not follow whatever the Supreme Court says. Because they have no right to dictate on Congress what we should do)
According to the 1987 Constitution, Congress may vote jointly to revoke the declaration of martial law in a majority vote. The President is required to submit to Congress within 48 hours a report on the martial law declaration.
But Alvarez and majority leader Rudy Fariñas earlier said there is no need for Congress to convene if it has no intention of revoking the martial law declaration in Mindanao. Alvarez even said it is not the President’s duty to listen to Congress and that it is Congress which has the duty to listen to the Chief Executive.
In the petition before the Supreme Court, the group of lawyers led by former solicitor general Florin Hilbay said the resolutions of Congress finding no reason to revoke the martial law declaration “cannot be considered in compliance with the clear constitutional requirement for Congress to convene and vote jointly.”
Meanwhile, in a separate petition filed by the independent minority bloc led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, the petitioners cited the “fatal inaccuracies and falsities” in the President’s martial law report to Congress, such as the alleged ransacking of a hospital, bank, university, and the city hall, and the alleged beheading of a Lanao Del Sur police chief, which all turned out to be false.
In another petition, Catholic bishops and former Senator Wigberto Tañada asked the Supreme Court to compel Congress to convene, as they alleged that Congress committed grave abuse of discretion when it issued separate resolutions supporting Duterte’s martial law without convening in joint session.
The three petitions were filed pursuant to the checks and balances provided in the 1987 Constitution that the Supreme Court may review any petition filed by a citizen questioning the factual basis of a martial law declaration.
The Supreme Court must promulgate its decision within thirty days from filing, the Constitution states.
Duterte declared martial law and suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao following the attack of the Maute group in Marawi city, where buildings were burned, people hostaged, and flags of the Islamic State (ISIS) hoisted in the siege carried out by the ISIS-inspired terror group. IDL/rga
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