Pres. Duterte Declares Martial Law in Mindanao
Citing the terrorist attack that recently happened in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur (Mindanao), led my the Maute Group, which are apparently sympathizers of ISIS, President Duterte declared the whole island of Mindanao under martial law. Later on, the President suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus also in the whole island of Mindanao.
According to the 1987 Constitution, "In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law."
There is no question that the President has the power to place the Philippines or any part of the country under martial law. However, the Constitution requires that such declaration must be based on public safety in case of invasion or rebellion. In the case of Marawi City, was there rebellion? Yes, there was. Does public safety require a proclamation of martial law? Yes, it does. However, the most important question is: Is it legally justifiable for the President to place not only Marawi City and its neighboring cities but also the whole island of Mindanao under martial law?
The answer is no. There President has no factual basis to place the whole island under martial law, when, in fact, it is only Marawi City and its neighboring areas that are experiencing threat to public safety because of the recent rebellion. Placing the whole island or the whole Philippines (which Duterte threatens to do) will cause more harm. Emergency powers, like any power, corrupt.
What is the duty of the President after declaring martial law? Under the Constitution, "Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress."
Hence, it is the President's constitutional mandate to report to the Congress either in person or in writing regarding his proclamation of martial law. The Constitution does not express what the report must contain but it is submitted that he has to justify his proclamation by laying down the basis for his doing so, presenting factual bases. Such justification or factual basis shall be the foundation of the Congress' decision to revoke or extend.
Is there a remedy to check the President's act of declaring martial law? Yes, there is.
The 1987 Constitution, fearing that that history would repeat itself, put measures that would ensure no abuse of emergency powers by the President.
Section 18, Article VII: "The 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. The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call."
The Congress is given by the Constitution the power to revoke the proclamation of martial law or to extend its period. However, it is required that such extension must be upon the initiative of the President and because of the persistence of invasion or rebellion, requiring the protection of public safety.
The Supreme Court
Section 18, Article VII: "The Supreme Court may 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."
If the Congress fails to or does not want to revoke the proclamation of martial law, any citizen shall have the legal standing to go to the Supreme Court and question the sufficiency of the factual basis of the same, or of the suspension of the privilege of the writ.
In case the Congress chooses to extend the period of martial law, any citizen shall likewise have the legal standing to go straight to the highest court and question the sufficiency of the factual basis of the extension.#