REPRESENTATIVES EDCEL LAGMAN, TOMASITO S. VILLARIN, EDGAR R. ERICE, TEDDY BRAWNER BAGUILAT, JR., GARY C. ALEJANO, AND EMMANUEL A. BILLONES, Petitioners, vs. SENATE PRESIDENT AQUILINO PIMENTEL III, SPEAKER PANTALEON D. ALVAREZ, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA, DEFENSE SECRETARY DELFIN N. LORENZANA, BUDGET SECRETARY BENJAMIN E. DIOKNO AND ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES CHIEF OF STAFF GENERAL REY LEONARDO GUERRERO, Respondents.
GR Nos. 235935, 236061, 236145, 236155
February 6, 2018
TOPIC: martial law extension
These are consolidated petitions assailing the constitutionality of the extension of the proclamation of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao for one year from January 1 to December 31, 2018.
On May 23, 2017, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao for a period not exceeding sixty (60) days, to address the rebellion mounted by members of the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).
On May 25, 2017, within the 48-hour period set in Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, the President submitted to the Senate and the House of Representatives his written Report, citing the events and reasons that impelled him to issue Proclamation No. 216. Thereafter, the Senate adopted P.S. Resolution No. 388 while the House of Representatives issued House Resolution No. 1050, both expressing full support to the Proclamation and finding no cause to revoke the same.
On July 18, 2017, the President requested the Congress to extend the effectivity of Proclamation No. 216. In a Special Joint Session on July 22, 2017, the Congress adopted Resolution of Both Houses No. 2 extending Proclamation No. 216 until December 31, 2017.
In a letter to the President, through Defense Secretary Lorenzana, AFP Chief of Staff General Guerrero, recommended the further extension of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao for one year beginning January 1, 2018 “for compelling reasons based on current security assessment.”
On the basis of this security assessment, Secretary Lorenzana wrote a similar recommendation to the President “primarily to ensure total eradication of DAESH-inspired Da’awatul Islamiyah Waliyatul Masriq (DIWM), other like-minded Local/Foreign Terrorist Groups (L/FTGs) and Armed Lawless Groups (ALGs), and the communist terrorists (CTs) and their coddlers, supporters and financiers, and to ensure speedy rehabilitation, recovery and reconstruction efforts in Marawi, and the attainment of lasting peace, stability, economic development and prosperity in Mindanao.”
Acting on said recommendations, the President, in a letter dated December 8, 2017, asked both the Senate and the House of Representatives to further extend the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao for one year, from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018, or for such period as the Congress may determine.
On December 13, 2017, the Senate and the House of Representatives, in a joint session, adopted Resolution of Both Houses No. 4 further extending the period of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao for one year, from January 1, 2018 to December 31, 2018.
- Whether or not the petitioners’ failure to attach Resolution of Both Houses No. 4 fatal to their petitions.
- Whether or not the President should be dropped as party respondent.
- Whether or not the Congress was an indispensable party to the consolidated petitions.
- Whether or not the Court was barred by the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment from examining the persistence of rebellion in Mindanao.
- Whether or not the petitioners may invoke the expanded (certiorari) jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution in seeking review of the extension of Proclamation No. 216.
- Whether or not the manner in which Congress deliberated on the President’s request for extension of martial law is subject to judicial review.
- Whether or not the 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.
- Whether or not the President and the Congress had sufficient factual basis to extend Proclamation No. 216.
- Whether or not there is necessity to impose tests on the choice and manner of the President’s exercise of military powers.
- Whether or not the petitioners were able to comply with all the requisites for the issuance of an injunctive writ.
FIRST ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioners’ failure to attach Resolution of Both Houses No. 4 fatal to their petitions. NO.
The Court held that since Resolution of Both Houses No. 4 is an official act of Congress, the they can take judicial notice thereof. Section 1, Rule 129 of the Rules of Court provides that a court can take judicial notice of the official acts of the legislative department without the introduction of evidence.
Moreover, the Court noted that respondents annexed a copy of the Resolution to their Consolidated Comment.
SECOND ISSUE: Whether or not the President should be dropped as party respondent. YES.
The Court held that the President should be dropped as party respondent considering that he enjoys the presidential immunity from suit.
The Court reiterated their ruling in Rubrico v. Macapagal-Arroyo, to wit:
It will degrade the dignity of the high office of the President, the Head of State, if he can be dragged into court litigations while serving as such. Furthermore, it is important that he be freed from any form of harassment, hindrance or distraction to enable him to fully attend to the performance of his official duties and functions. Unlike the legislative and judicial branch, only one constitutes the executive branch and anything which impairs his usefulness in the discharge of the many great and important duties imposed upon him by the Constitution necessarily impairs the operation of the Government.
THIRD ISSUE: Whether or not the Congress was an indispensable party to the consolidated petitions. YES.
The Court held that in cases impugning the extension of martial law for lack of sufficient factual basis, the entire body of the Congress, composed of the Senate and the House of Representatives, must be impleaded, being an indispensable party thereto.
The Court further ruled that in these consolidated petitions, petitioners are questioning the constitutionality of a congressional act, specifically the approval of the President’s request to extend martial law in Mindanao. Clearly, therefore, it is the Congress as a body, and not just its leadership, which has interest in the subject matter of these cases.
FOURTH ISSUE: Whether or not the Court was barred by the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment from examining the persistence of rebellion in Mindanao. NO.
The Court held that as to the second requirement, there was np identity of issues between the Lagman and Padilla cases, on one hand, and the case at bar.
Conclusiveness of judgment, a species of the principle of res judicata, bars the re-litigation of any right, fact or matter in issue directly adjudicated or necessarily involved in the determination of an action before a competent court in which judgment is rendered on the merits. In order to successfully apply in a succeeding litigation the doctrine of conclusiveness of judgment, mere identities of parties and issues is required.
The issue put forth by petitioners in the earlier Lagman case, which this Court already settled, refers to the existence of a state of rebellion which would trigger the President’s initial declaration of martial law, whereas the factual issue in the case at bar refers to the persistence of the same rebellion in Mindanao which would justify the extension of martial law.
The fact that petitioners are not barred from questioning the alleged persistence of the rebellion in these consolidated petitions is also supported by the transitory nature of the Court’s judgment on the sufficiency of the factual basis for a declaration of martial law.
Verily, the Court’s review in martial law cases is largely dependent on the existing factual scenario used as basis for its imposition or extension. The gravity and scope of rebellion or invasion, as the case may be, should necessarily be re-examined, in order to make a justiciable determination on whether rebellion persists in Mindanao as to justify an extension of a state of martial law.
FIFTH ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioners may invoke the expanded (certiorari) jurisdiction of the Supreme Court under Section 1, Article VIII of the Constitution in seeking review of the extension of Proclamation No. 216. NO.
The Court reiterated their earlier ruling in Lagman case where they emphasized that the Court’s jurisdiction under the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII is special and specific, different from those enumerated in Sections 1 and 5 of Article VIII. It was further stressed therein that the standard of review in a petition for certiorari is whether the respondent has committed any grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in the performance of his or her functions, whereas under Section 18, Article VII, the Court is tasked to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President’s exercise of emergency powers.
Hence, the Court concluded that a petition for certiorari pursuant to Section 1 or Section 5 of Article VIII is not the proper tool to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
The Court added that to apply the standard of review in a petition for certiorari will emasculate the Court’s constitutional task under Section 18, Article VII, which was precisely meant to provide an additional safeguard against possible martial law abuse and limit the extent of the powers of the Commander-in-Chief.
Finally, the Court held that a certiorari petition invoking the Court’s expanded jurisdiction is not the proper remedy to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the Congress’ extension of the proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ.
PRELIMINARIES ON MARTIAL LAW
Congressional check on martial law
Congressional check on the President’s martial law and suspension powers thus consists of:
- The power to review the President’s proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and to revoke such proclamation or suspension. The review is “automatic in the sense that it may be activated by Congress itself at any time after the proclamation or suspension is made.” The Congress’ decision to revoke the proclamation or suspension cannot be set aside by the President.
- The power to approve any extension of the proclamation or suspension, upon the President’s initiative, for such period as it may determine, if the invasion or rebellion persists and public safety requires it.
Joint executive and legislative act
When approved by the Congress, the extension of the proclamation or suspension, as described during the deliberations on the 1987 Constitution, becomes a “joint executive and legislative act” or a “collective judgment” between the President and the Congress.
SIXTH ISSUE: Whether or not the manner in which Congress deliberated on the President’s request for extension of martial law is subject to judicial review. NO.
The Court ruled that they cannot review the rules promulgated by Congress in the absence of any constitutional violation. Petitioners have not shown that the above-quoted rules of the Joint Session violated any provision or right under the Constitution.
Construing the full discretionary power granted to the Congress in promulgating its rules, the Court, in the case of Spouses Dela Paz (Ret.) v. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, et al. explained that the limitation of this unrestricted power deals only with the imperatives of quorum, voting and publication. It should be added that there must be a reasonable relation between the mode or method of proceeding established by the rule and the result which is sought to be attained.
In the instant case, the rules in question did not pertain to quorum, voting or publication. Furthermore, deliberations on extending martial law certainly cannot be equated to the consideration of regular or ordinary legislation. The Congress may consider such matter as urgent as to necessitate swift action, or it may take its time investigating the factual situation. This Court cannot engage in undue speculation that members of Congress did not review and study the President’s request based on a bare allegation that the time allotted for deliberation was too short.
SEVENTH ISSUE: Whether or not the 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. YES.
Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution is indisputably silent as to how many times the Congress, upon the initiative of the President, may extend the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus.
What is clear is that the ONLY limitations to the exercise of the congressional authority to extend such proclamation or suspension are (1) that the extension should be upon the President’s initiative; (2) that it should be grounded on the persistence of the invasion or rebellion and the demands of public safety; and (3) that it is subject to the Court’s review of the sufficiency of its factual basis upon the petition of any citizen.
Section 18, Article VII did not also fix the period of the extension of the proclamation and suspension. However, it clearly gave the Congress the authority to decide on its duration; thus, the provision states that that the extension shall be “for a period to be determined by the Congress.”
Commissioner Jose E. Suarez’s proposal to limit the extension to 60 days was not adopted by the majority of the Commission’s members. The framers evidently gave enough flexibility on the part of the Congress to determine the duration of the extension. Plain textual reading of Section 18, Article VII and the records of the deliberation of the Constitutional Commission buttress the view that as regards the frequency and duration of the extension, the determinative factor is as long as “the invasion or rebellion persists and public safety requires” such extension.
EIGHTH ISSUE: Whether or not the President and the Congress had sufficient factual basis to extend Proclamation No. 216. YES.
Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution requires two factual bases for the extension of the proclamation of martial law or of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus: (a) the invasion or rebellion persists; and (b) public safety requires the extension.
Rebellion persists as to satisfy the first condition for the extension of martial law or of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
The reasons cited by the President in his request for further extension indicate that the rebellion, which caused him to issue Proclamation No. 216, continues to exist and its “remnants” have been resolute in establishing a DAESH/ISIS territory in Mindanao, carrying on through the recruitment and training of new members, financial and logistical build-up, consolidation of forces and continued attacks.
AFP General Guerrero also cited, among others, the continued armed resistance of the DAESH-inspired DIWM and their allies. Moreover, The AFP’s data also showed that Foreign Terrorist Fighters (FTFs) are now acting as instructors to the new members of the Dawlah Islamiyah.
Also, it does not necessarily follow that with the liberation of Marawi, the DAESH/ISIS-inspired rebellion no longer exists. Secretary Lorenzana, during the Congress’ Joint Session on December 13, 2017, explained that while the situation in Marawi has substantially changed, the rebellion has not ceased but simply moved to other places in Mindanao.
Acts upon which extension was based posed danger to general public
The Court also ruled that the acts, circumstances and events upon which the extension was based posed a significant danger, injury or harm to the general public.
The Court added that the information upon which the extension of martial law or of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall be based principally emanate from and are in the possession of the Executive Department. Thus, “the Court will have to rely on the fact-finding capabilities of the Executive Department; in tum, the Executive Department will have to open its findings to the scrutiny of the Court.”
The Executive Department did open its findings to the Court when the· AFP gave its “briefing” or “presentation” during the oral arguments, presenting data, which had been vetted by the NICA, “based on intelligence reports gathered on the ground,” from personalities they were able to capture and residents in affected areas, declassified official documents, and intelligence obtained by the PNP. According to the AFP, the same presentation, save for updates, was given to the Congress. As it stands, the information thus presented has not been challenged or questioned as regards its reliability.
The facts as provided by the Executive and considered by Congress amply establish that rebellion persists in Mindanao and public safety is significantly endangered by it. The Court, thus, holds that there exists sufficient factual basis for the further extension sought by the President and approved by the Congress in its Resolution of Both Houses No. 4.
NINTH ISSUE: Whether or not there is necessity to impose tests on the choice and manner of the President’s exercise of military powers. NO.
The Court reiterated their ruling in the earlier Lagman case that the determination of which among the Constitutionally given military powers should be exercised in a given set of factual circumstances is a prerogative of the President. The Court’s power of review, as provided under Section 18, Article VII do not empower the Court to advise, nor dictate its own judgment upon the President, as to which and how these military powers should be exercised.
TENTH ISSUE: Whether or not the petitioners were able to comply with all the requisites for the issuance of an injunctive writ. NO.
By jurisprudence, to be entitled to an injunctive writ, petitioners have the burden to establish the following requisites: (1) a right in esse or a clear and unmistakable right to be protected; (2) a violation of that right; (3) that there is an urgent and permanent act and urgent necessity for the writ to prevent serious damage; and (4) no other ordinary, speedy, and adequate remedy exists to prevent the infliction of irreparable injury.
Petitioners anchored their prayer for the issuance of an injunctive writ on respondents’ gross transgressions of the Constitution when they extended the martial law in Mindanao for one year. The Lagman petition likewise alleges that petitioner Villarin, a Davao City resident, is personally prejudiced by the extension or martial law in Mindanao “which would spawn violations of civil liberties of Mindanaoans like petitioner Villarin who is a steadfast critic of the Duterte administration and of the brutalities committed by police and military forces”.
The alleged violations of the petitioners’ civil liberties do not justify the grant of injunctive relief. The petitioners failed to prove that the alleged violations are directly attributable to the imposition of martial law. They likewise failed to establish the nexus between the President’s exercise of his martial law powers and their unfounded apprehension that the imposition “will target civilians who have no participation at all in any armed uprising or struggle”. Incidentally, petitioners failed to state what the “civil liberties” specifically refer to, and how the extension of martial law in Mindanao would threaten these “civil liberties” in derogation of the rule of law. Evidently, petitioners’ right is doubtful or disputed, and can hardly be considered a clear legal right, sufficient for the grant of an injunctive writ.
This Court cannot rely on speculations, conjectures or guesswork, but must depend upon competent proof and on the basis of the best evidence obtainable under the circumstances. We emphasize that the grant or denial of an injunctive writ cannot be properly resolved by suppositions, deductions, or even presumptions, with no basis in evidence, for the truth must have to be determined by the procedural rules of admissibility and proof.
Incidentally, there is nothing in the Constitution, nor in any law which supports petitioners’ theory. Such purported human right violations cannot be utilized as ground either to enjoin the President from exercising the power to declare martial law, or the Congress in extending the same. To sanction petitioners’ plea would result into judicial activism, thereby going against the principle of separation of powers.
As discussed above, petitioners are not left without any recourse. Such transgressions can be addressed in a separate and independent court action. Hence, petitioners can lodge a complaint-affidavit before the prosecutor’s office or file a direct complaint before the appropriate courts against erring parties.