Catholic Bishops, student leaders file third petition vs martial law in SC

MANILA-- A group of Catholic Bishops, student leaders and a former senator on Wednesday filed a mandamus petition before the Supreme Court asking to order the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene in joint session and vote jointly on President Rodrigo Duterte's Proclamation 216 declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao.

This was the third petition filed before the high court to challenge the constitutionality of the President's proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

Aside from former senator Wigberto Tanada, petitioners Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Bishop Antonio Tobias, Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iniguez, Mother Adelaida Ygrubay of the Order of St. Benedict and students Shamah Bulangis and Cassandra D. Deluria urged the high court to declare that the House of Representatives and the Senate committed grave abuse of discretion when it issued separate resolutions supporting the President's martial law declaration.

It is most respectfully prayed that this Honorable Supreme Court declare the refusal of Congress to convene a joint session for the purpose of considering Proclamation No. 216 to be in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction and issue a Writ of Mandamus directing Congress to convene in joint session for the aforementioned purpose, the 26-page petition for certiorari and mandamus stated.

Given previous experiences with martial law, where proceedings were fraught with secrecy, a public transparent and deliberative process is necessary to quell the people's fears against executive overreach, petitioners said.

Petitioners pointed out that the deficiency of not convening in a joint session cannot be cured by a separate briefings given by the Executive branch and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to both Houses of Congress.

A plain reading of the 1987 Constitution leads to the indubitable conclusion that a joint session of Congress to review a declaration of Martial Law by the President is mandatory and failure to do so deprives the public of transparent proceedings within which to be informed of the factual bases of the declaration of Martial law, it said.

The petition named Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as respondents.

On Tuesday, a group of lawyers filed a mandamus petition before the SC while on Monday the opposition lawmakers filed a petition asking the high court to nullify Duterte's declaration.

The second petitioners led by former senator Rene Saguisag former party-list lawmaker Loretta Ann Rosales, detained Senator Leila De Lima, former PhilHealth Director Alexander Padilla and law professor Rene Gorospe seeks issuance of a mandamus that would compel Senate and the House of Representatives to convene jointly to review the declaration.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court on Tuesday has set the dates for oral arguments on the petition filed by opposition lawmakers led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman to challenge the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

SC spokesman Theodore Te said that justices of the high court decided to set the petition by members of the minority in the House of Representatives for oral arguments on June 13, 14 and 15 at 10 a.m.

Aside from Lagman, other petitioners include Akbayan Rep. Tomasito Villarin, Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano, Capiz Rep. Emmanuel Billones, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Brawner Baguilat, Jr. and Caloocan Rep. Edgar Erice.

Named respondents to the petition were Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary and Martial Law Administrator Delfin Lorenzana and AFP Chief of Staff and Martial Law Implementor Eduardo AAo.

The high court gave respondents on or before noon on June 12 to submit their comment.

Require the Office of the Solicitor General, for and in behalf of the respondents, to comment on the petition not later than June 12, 2017 at 12:00 Noon (The Docket Receiving Section of the Supreme Court will be open to receive the Comment.), Te said.

It also set preliminary conference on the case on the same day (June 12) at 2 p.m. and required parties to submit memoranda not later than June 19 at 2 p.m. after the oral arguments.

In their petition filed Monday, Lagman and six other congressmen asked the high court to exercise its power under the Constitution to review a president's martial law declaration.

Petitioners argued, in a nutshell, that there was no factual basis to justify the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus.

They claimed that the siege in Marawi is not rebellion or invasion, but rather an "armed resistance by the Maute Group to shield Hapilon from capture, not to overrun Marawi and remove its allegiance from the Republic."

Petitioners believes that what was present in Marawi may be considered only as imminent dange, which has been obliterated from the 1987 Constitution as an alternative ground for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus."

On Monday, Solicitor General Jose C. Calida said that he is ready to defend Proclamation No. 216 and he is confident that the government will win.

Calida made the statement in response to the filing of opposition lawmakers a petition before the Supreme Court to challenge the constitutionality of President Rodrigo Duterte's proclamation of martial law in Mindanao.

Who are these rabble-rousers to say that there is no factual basis for the declaration of martial law? Calida said in a statement.

Their denial that there is an ongoing rebellion by the combined forces of the Maute group and the Abu Sayyaf, heightened by the participation of foreign jihadists to make Mindanao a caliphate of ISIS (Islamic State in Iraq and Syria), is like saying that the sun does not rise from the east. This is a symptom of psychosis since they are detached from reality, he noted.

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, on May 23 declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. This was a result of the attack of the Maute group in Marawi City, which is still ongoing and is subject to military operations.

Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that the President's declaration of martial law needs the recommendation or concurrence of the Defense Secretary, or any cabinet official, Calida said, refuting the petitioners' argument that Duterte acted alone in declaring martial law without the benefit of a recommendation from his cabinet.

Source: Philippines News Agency