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Supreme Court declares final its ruling upholding martial law in Mindanao


By Rey G. Panaligan

The Supreme Court (SC) on Tuesday declared final its July 4 ruling on the constitutionality of President Duterte’s imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

During its full-court session, 10 justices voted to dismiss the motions for reconsideration filed by the petitioners who had challenged the President’s Proclamation No. 216 that was issued in response to the attacks by the Maute Group in Marawi City last May 23.

Dismissed were the motions filed by Rep. Edcel Lagman, local Mindanao leaders led by Lumad leader Eufemia Campos Cullamat, and a group of women from Marawi led by Norkaya Mohamad.

Those who voted to dismiss the motions were Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. Teresita J. Leonardo de Castro, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. del Castillo, Estela M. Perlas Bernabe, Samuel Martires, Noel J. Tijam, Andres Reyes Jr., and Alexander Gesmundo.

Justice Francis H. Jardeleza who had earlier voted on the legality of the martial declaration was on leave and did not indicate his vote.

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio, and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa voted to partially grant the motions as they maintained their position that martial law should be limited only to certain areas in Mindanao.

Justice Marvic Mario Victor Leonen was the only magistrate who voted to grant the motions.

With the dismissal of the petitions, the SC reiterated its ruling that the President has the power to determine the scope of territorial application of martial law.

Earlier, the SC had unanimously voted to dismiss two petitions that wanted to compel Congress to convene in a joint session to tackle the validity of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

The SC dismissed the petitions “on the ground that Congress did not gravely abuse its discretion in not convening jointly upon the President’s issuance of Proclamation No. 216.”

It ruled that Section 18, Article VII, of the Constitution “imposes no such duty on Congress to convene, such duty (to convene and vote) being limited to instances where Congress intends to revoke or extend any proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”

Congress had voted unanimously to extend the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until the end of this year.

The Constitution empowers the President to declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus “in cases of invasion, rebellion or when public safety requires it.”

It mandates the SC “to review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.”

It also provides that “Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

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