By Rey Panaligan
The Supreme Court (SC) declared as constitutional President Rodrigo Duterte’s extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until Dec. 31, 2018.
Ten justices, led by Noel G. Tijam who wrote the decision, voted in favor of the extension. Five justices dissented.
In a press briefing and quoting from the decision, Spokesman Theodore O. Te said:
“The President and Congress had sufficient factual bases to extend Proclamation No. 216.
“The rebellion that spawned the Marawi incident persists.
“Public safety requires the extension, as shown by facts presented by the AFP” (Armed Forces of the Philippines).
On substantive issues raised in the petitions, a summary of the decision released by Te stated:
“The manner of Congress’ deliberation with respect to the President’s request for extension of martial law in Mindanao for one year is not subject to judicial review.
“Each House of Congress has full discretionary authority to formulate, adopt, and promulgate its own rules; the exercise of this power is generally exempt from judicial supervision and interference, except on a clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of the power such as would constitute a denial of due process.
“The alleged inordinate haste in approving the request for extension cannot serve as a ground to nullify the extension.
“The Rules governing the Joint Session of Congress were adopted without objection by both Houses of Congress on December 13, 2017; the Transcript of the Plenary Proceedings of the Joint Session showed that Members of Congress were, upon request, granted extension of their time to interpellate.
“Congress has the power to extend and determine the period of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution. The Constitution is silent on how many times Congress may extend a proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It also does not fix a period for the duration of any extension of a proclamation or suspension but expressly leaves the matter to Congress— “for a period to be determined by Congress.” The 60-day period of the initial proclamation and/or suspension by the President cannot be considered to apply to any extension as determined by Congress.
“If the Constitutional Commission had intended to limit any extension to 60 days, it would have been expressly stated and would not have been left to Congress.
“The phrase ‘in the same manner in the relevant portion of Sec. 18– “the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension’—cannot justify the 60-day limit. The phrase ‘same manner’ refers to the same manner of voting required for the revocation of the initial proclamation and/or suspension, i.e., ‘voting jointly, by a vote of least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session.’
Those who concurred in the decision were Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr. (with separate opinion), Teresita J. Leonardo-De Castro, Diosdado M. Peralta, Lucas P. Bersamin, Mariano C. Del Castillo (with separate opinion), Estela M. Perlas Bernabe (with separate opinion), Samuel R. Martires (with separate opinion), Andres B. Reyes Jr., and Alexander G. Gesmundo.
The dissenters were Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P.A. Sereno, Senior Justice Antonio T. Carpio (with separate opinion), and Justices Marvic M.V.F. Leonen (with separate opinion), Francis H. Jardeleza (with separate opinion), and Alfredo Benjamin S. Caguioa (with separate opinion).