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SC ‘powerless’ in overriding martial law if Congress OKs it—Aguirre

/ 05:06 PM May 29, 2017
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre before the Congressional hearing and inquiry on illegal drug trade in National Bilibid Prison, October 10, 2016.NIÑO JESUS ORBETA/Philippine Daily Inquirer

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre. NIÑO JESUS ORBETA/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

The Supreme Court is “almost powerless” to override President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law especially if Congress, voting jointly has approved it, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Monday.

Aguirre said if the SC revoked martial law despite approval by Congress, there will be a constitutional crisis.

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“If Congress already declared valid the martial law in Mindanao, the Supreme Court, in my opinion, is almost powerless to override Congress and the President,” Aguirre said at a press conference.

“Why? Because if Congress already approved the declaration of martial law, nobody can overturn that, not even the Supreme Court,” Aguirre said.

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While he acknowledged the provision in Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution that gives the SC 30 days within which to decide on a petition questioning the factual basis for martial declaration, Aguirre said the Court still has to defer to the position of both the President and Congress.

“I believe that in view of the declaration of the President and the concurrence of Congress, the only way that the SC could oppose this is when it shows that the act, that the President acted arbitrarily, which is very difficult to prove,” Aguirre claimed.

Aguirre cited the very detailed report that the President submitted to Congress justifying the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

In his report, Aguirre pointed out that the joint attack by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups in Marawi City was a prelude to eventually taking over the entire island.

“Considering the network and alliance-building activities among terrorist groups, local criminals, and lawless armed men, the siege of Marawi City is a vital cog in attaining their long-standing goal: absolute control over the entirety of Mindanao,” the report read.

“These circumstances demand swift and decisive action to ensure the safety and security of the Filipino people and preserve out national integrity,” it added. JE/rga

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TAGS: Aguirre, Congress, Department of Justice, DoJ, Martial law, SC, Supreme Court, Vitaliano Aguirre
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