SC intervention on martial law sought
A petition has been filed with the Supreme Court asking it to require the House of Representatives and the Senate to follow the Constitution and convene in a joint session, which will deliberate the validity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.
On May 23, Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 declaring martial law in Mindanao following a terror attack in Marawi by the Maute group.
Two days later, in compliance with the 1987 Constitution, Duterte submitted to both the House of Representatives and the Senate the report in relation to the declaration of martial law.
On May 31, the House of Representatives approved House Resolution 1050 while the Senate adopted Resolution 388, both expressing support for the declaration of martial law.
“These acts cannot be considered compliance with the clear constitutional requirement for Congress to convene and vote jointly,” the petition for mandamus stated.
“They are ineffectual in relation to the Congress’ obligation to jointly convene and vote consistent with its obligation under Article VII Section 18 [of the Constitution],” petitioners, who include constitutionalist Christian Monsod, former senator Rene Saguisag, former party-list lawmaker Loretta Ann Rosales, Senator Leila De Lima, former PhilHealth Director Alexander Padilla and law Professor Rene Gorospe, told the high court.
The petitioners said that the President’s power to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus are powers that could have severe consequences including potential suppression of basic civil rights.
They explained that Congress, voting jointly to determine whether the proclamation of martial law and or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is valid or not, is considered the “first line of defense” against possible repeat of the martial rule of former President Ferdinand Marcos.
“Legislative review of the exercise of the martial law powers is therefore meant to provide democratic check or sanction to the exercise of such powers. This democratic checking or validating powers is for the protection of the people whose rights are placed at risk by the use of such powers,” petitioners said.
“The failure of Congress to act as a single deliberative body cannot be substituted with separate resolutions passed by both Houses…Substantial compliance is no compliance,” petitioners said.
They warned that an institutional shortcut could set a dangerous precedent of allowing a total disregard of what is required under the Constitution. JPV/rga
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