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Martial Law in Maguindanao – Political or Judicial Question

Posted by lexforiphilippines on December 11, 2009

Where does the congressional inquiry into the Martial Law Proclamation end and the judicial review of the same Proclamation begin?

As a check-and-balance mechanism, the 1987 Constitution gave the two other co-equal branches of the government the power to rein in the seemingly vast power of the Executive.  Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution grants the Legislature the power to revoke the Proclamation, and the Judiciary the power to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the Proclamation.  But won’t there be any overlapping of issues to review? 

In determining whether or not to revoke the Proclamation, wouldn’t Congress be constrained to look into the factual basis of the Proclamation – to see if there was an actual rebellion in Maguindanao? As it is, Congress, in its joint session, has put forward issues concerning the sufficiency of the President’s reasons for issuing Proclamation No. 1959.  What happens, therefore, if Congress decides to revoke the Proclamation? Will the petitions before the Supreme Court questioning the very same Proclamation be considered moot? And won’t the mooting of the petitions only confirm that the issues which Congress considers are the very same issues put forward before the Judiciary? If the Judiciary decides, within the 30-day period prescribed by the Constitution and before Congress resolves to revoke or affirm the Proclamation, that the Proclamation had no sufficient factual basis to proclaim martial law, will Congress be bound by such finding? Can it proceed to affirm the Proclamation? Or looking at it the other way around, what if the Judiciary sustains the sufficiency of the factual basis of the Proclamation, can Congress still decide to revoke the Proclamation? What if it does?

Just asking . . . perhaps the exec better just lift it.

Although, we must say, this recent historic event has provided fertile ground for new and interesting jurisprudence.


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