1987 Charter on martial law: joint session unnecessary if… PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 June 2017 11:40




LIFE’S INSPIRATIONS: “… For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast…” (Ephesians 2:8-9, the Holy Bible).


MEDIA CONFUSION ON SC PETITION VS. MARTIAL LAW: Now I am confused, as to what really is the main point of the petition that several opposition lawmakers and personalities filed with the Supreme Court in relation to President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao last May 23, 2017.

One newspaper that prides itself with “fearless views” reported that the petition concerned only the refusal of both the House of Representatives and of the Senate to convene after Duterte’s proclamation, saying this refusal to convene violated the 1987 Constitution.

On the other hand, the newspaper that claims it is the oldest in the Philippines reported that the petition concerned principally two things: first, the factual basis of Duterte’s proclamation, saying martial law in Mindanao is without any basis, and, second, that Congress violated the Constitution in its refusal to convene to consider the factual and legal sufficiency of martial law.


WITH SC PETITION, THE PRESIDENT MUST NOW DISCLOSE FACTUAL BASIS OF MARTIAL LAW: Be that as it may, I wish to raise some points that will explain why there is a petition with the Supreme Court against Duterte’s martial law in Mindanao. The Constitution itself allows the filing of that petition, under its Section 18, Art. 17.

Section 18 says: “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.”

In a petition such as this, it becomes the duty of the President to explain or point out the factual basis of his declaration of martial law. He has to show, as the other parts of Section 18 state, that there was invasion or rebellion, and public safety required such proclamation.


CONGRESS MUST CONVENE JOINTLY ONLY IF MARTIAL LAW IS TO BE REVOKED: With respect to the issue of Congress convening jointly, it should be clear that a joint session shall be convened only if our lawmakers are minded to revoke the presidential proclamation.

If, after receiving the report of the President about his bases in proclaiming martial lawmakers believe that martial law was proper, as what happened here when both the House and the Senate voted to uphold Duterte’s proclamation, there was no need anymore for them to convene.

Here is what Section 18 says on this joint session: “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.” In other words, if there was an intention to revoke the proclamation, Congress must convene and vote jointly.


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