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Believing that she needed greater authority to

put order in Maguindanao and secure it from large
DECISION groups of persons that have taken up arms against the
constituted authorities in the province, on December
ABAD, J.: 4, 2009 President Arroyo issued Presidential
Proclamation 1959 declaring martial law and
suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas
These cases concern the constitutionality of a corpus in that province except for identified areas of
presidential proclamation of martial law and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus in 2009
in a province in Mindanao which were withdrawn Two days later or on December 6, 2009
after just eight days. President Arroyo submitted her report to Congress in
accordance with Section 18, Article VII of the 1987
The Facts and the Case Constitution which required her, within 48 hours from
the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of
The essential background facts are not in dispute. On the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, to submit
November 23, 2009 heavily armed men, believed led to that body a report in person or in writing of her
by the ruling Ampatuan family, gunned down and action.
buried under shoveled dirt 57 innocent civilians on a
highway in Maguindanao. In response to this carnage, In her report, President Arroyo said that she
on November 24 President Arroyo issued Presidential acted based on her finding that lawless men have
Proclamation 1946, declaring a state of emergency in taken up arms in Maguindanao and risen against the
Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato City to government. The President described the scope of the
prevent and suppress similar lawless violence uprising, the nature, quantity, and quality of the rebels
in Central Mindanao. weaponry, the movement of their heavily armed units
in strategic positions, the closure of the Maguindanao

But. 190356. and 190380 brought the present provisions of Section 18. invasion or rebellion. in joint said the Court in Biraogo v. he may call out such liberties of Maguindanaos inhabitants could arise. 2009 Congress. that the resolution of such issue is unavoidable.Provincial Capitol. Presidents action. when the public safety requires it. case of invasion or rebellion. 18. The pertinent 190307. On December 9. validate or invalidate the same. the President issued 1959 is not unavoidable for two reasons: Presidential Proclamation 1963. martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus before the joint houses of Congress Petitioners Philip Sigfrid A. Fortun and the other could fulfill their automatic duty to review and petitioners in G. convened pursuant to Section 18. for a . lifting martial law and restoring the privilege of the writ ofhabeas One. President Arroyo withdrew her proclamation of corpus in Maguindanao. the government dictate that the Court should be and the use of armored vehicles. constitutionality of the acts of the Executive or the Legislative department. 190301. and 14 other municipal halls. The President shall be the proclamation before Congress could review it and Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it before any serious question affecting the rights and becomes necessary. 190293. tanks. and patrol cars cautious in entertaining actions that assail the with unauthorized PNP/Police markings.R. But. The issue of constitutionality.[1] must be the very issue of the of the 1987 Constitution to review the validity of the case. given the prompt lifting of that Sec. Article VII Commission of 2010.190302. Philippine Truth session. 190294. Article VII of the 1987 actions to challenge the constitutionality of President Constitution state: Arroyos Proclamation 1959 affecting Maguindanao. two days later or on December The issue of the constitutionality of Proclamation 12 before Congress could act. In equivalent of beating a dead horse. he may. Ampatuan Municipal Hall. Datu Prudence and respect for the co-equal departments of Unsay Municipal Hall. the armed forces to prevent or suppress Court deems any review of its constitutionality the lawless violence.

Thus: martial law or the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus. xxxx It is evident that under the 1987 Constitution the President and the Congress act in tandem in . may revoke such proclamation or suspension. which action in person or in writing to revocation shall not be set aside by the Congress. good for only in writing to the Congress. he shares such power with the thereof under martial law. report his proclamation or suspension. may The Congress. rebellion shall persist and public safety and requires it. 60 days.period not exceeding sixty days. within 48 hours of the special session. President. if not in session. revoke or affirm the Presidents within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension. Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of Congress. if the invasion or for the purpose of reviewing its validity. The Congress. voting jointly. if not in manner. same if Congress deems warranted. He must. in the same 3. Upon the initiative of the President. or extend the accordance with its rules without any need of a call. extend such proclamation or session must jointly convene within 24 suspension for a period to be determined hours of the proclamation or suspension by the Congress. suspend Although the above vests in the President the power the privilege of the writ ofhabeas to proclaim martial law or suspend the privilege of the corpus or place the Philippines or any part writ of habeas corpus. allow their proclamation or suspension. 4. voting jointly. convene in limited effectivity to lapse. The Presidents proclamation or President shall submit a report in person or suspension is temporary. The Congress. the 1. shall. Both houses of Congress. by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or 2. the Congress may.

exercising the power to proclaim martial law or in fact convened. President Arroyo withdrew Proclamation and swiftly disintegrated in the face of a determined 1959 before the joint houses of Congress. Only decree affecting Maguindanao that should ordinarily when Congress defaults in its express duty to defend be enacted by Congress. The point is that the Congress before it becomes a justiciable one in the President intended by her action to address an hands of the Court.[2] ground. no petition for habeas of martial law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus had been filed with the Court respecting corpus is first a political question in the hands of arrests made in those eight days. They exercise the power. The during the period were either released or promptly constitutional validity of the Presidents proclamation charged in court. Since President Arroyo withdrew her proclamation of martial law and suspension of the Consequently. uprising in a relatively small and sparsely populated province. . which had and amply armed government presence. it is implicit that the Court operation and control of local government units in must allow Congress to exercise its own review Maguindanao. Those who were arrested Supreme Court step in as its final rampart. The military did not take over the suspension in a proper suit. but in a sense jointly since. Two. In her judgment. could act on the suspend the privilege of the writ ofhabeas same. No indiscriminate mass the Constitution through such review should the arrest had been reported. The lifting of martial law and restoration of President has initiated the proclamation or the the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in suspension. they have not been meaningfully sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation or implemented. the rebellion was localized Here. Consequently. which is automatic rather than initiated. Indeed. not only become moot and the Court has nothing to sequentially. the petitions in these cases have corpus. a power that the President does not have. although the Constitution reserves to privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in just eight the Supreme Court the power to review the days. The President did not issue any law or powers. only the Congress can maintain the same Maguindanao was a supervening event that obliterated based on its own evaluation of the situation on the any justiciable controversy. after the review.

the Court received evidence in suspension. the Court has only 30 days from did not delegate and could not delegate to the RTC of the filing of an appropriate proceeding to review the Quezon City its power to determine the factual basis sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of . the proclamation having been dimensions. Garcia. v. the Court 1987 Constitution. firstly. Enrile. Secondly. In Aquino. precisely because of Education. as Commander-in-Chief of the corpus in 1971 had sufficient factual basis. it still held hearings on the The Court does not resolve purely academic petitions for habeas corpus to determine the questions to satisfy scholarly interest. for the presidential proclamation and [3] In Lansang v. said the Court inPhilippine to examine the evidence upon which President Arroyo Association of Colleges and Universities v. had in her possession when she issued Jr. the Court has not bothered especially true. To doubt is to sustain. there is no showing that the executive session to determine if President Marcos RTC of Quezon City passed upon the same evidence suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas that the President.[6] where the issues reach constitutional it felt no need to. But the Court cannot use such finding as basis for striking down the Presidents Notably.[7] the elements of the crime. Carpio points out in his dissenting duty is to steer clear of declaring unconstitutional the opinion the finding of the Regional Trial Court (RTC) acts of the Executive or the Legislative department. Here. for then there comes into play regard for withdrawn within a few days of its issuance.[5] This is petitioners. For. Article VII of the proclamation and suspension. the courts duty to avoid decision of constitutional issues unless avoidance becomes evasion. The Courts Justice Antonio T.[4] while the Court took judicial notice of the proclamation and suspension. Armed Forces. however. of Quezon City that no probable cause exist that the given the assumption that it carefully studied those accused before it committed rebellion in acts and found them consistent with the fundamental Maguindanao since the prosecution failed to establish law before taking them. the factual bases for President Marcos proclamation of martial law in 1972. Secretary acted in issuing Proclamation 1959. however constitutionality of the arrest and detention of the intellectually challenging these are. under Section 18.

Whatever form that filing. in an Article VII. the If the Congress procrastinates or altogether fails question having become moot and academic. But what if the 30 of habeas corpus as sequential or joint. then Justice Carpio of course points out that should the Court can step in. fixed by the Constitution. to fulfill its duty respecting the proclamation or suspension within the short time expected of it. within 48 hours citizen.martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the But those 30 days. hear the petitions challenging the Court regard the powers of the President and the Presidents action. the of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ Congress is required to convene without need of a call of habeas corpus or the extension thereof. The . Proclamation 1959. The Supreme Court may review. requires the President to report his actions appropriate proceeding filed by any to Congress. the Constitution calls for quick thereon within thirty days from its action on the part of the Congress. therefore. Section 18. then it can annul the or the suspension of the privilege of the writ proclamation or the suspension. If the Court finds none. in his dissent: that 30-day period does not operate to divest this Court of its jurisdiction over the case. In turn. Thus should be enough for the Court to fulfill its duty without pre-empting congressional action. Clearly. (Emphasis supplied) action takes. within 24 hours following the Presidents proclamation and must promulgate its decision or suspension. it would be days given it by the Constitution proves impossible for the Court to exercise its power of inadequate? Justice Carpio himself offers the answer review within the 30 days given it. should give the Court sufficient time to fulfill its own mandate to review the More than two years have passed since factual basis of the proclamation or suspension within petitioners filed the present actions to annul 30 days of its issuance. and ascertain if it has a factual Congress respecting the proclamation of martial law basis. When the Court did not decide it then. in person or in writing. writ of habeas corpus. it actually opted for a default as was its duty. the sufficiency of the factual basis of such proclamation or suspension.

CORONA Of course. BRION WHEREFORE. the proclamation and the suspension never took off. appear more like saber- rattling than an actual deployment and arbitrary use of political power. the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas VELASCO. CARPIO PRESBITERO J. it having become moot and academic. . unlike similar Presidential acts in Associate Justice Associate Justice the late 60s and early 70s. But the present cases do not present sufficient basis for the exercise of the power of judicial review. RENATO C. TERESITA J. ROBERTO A. the Court has in exceptional cases Chief Justice passed upon issues that ordinarily would have been regarded as moot. The problem in this case is that the President ABAD aborted the proclamation of martial law and the Associate Justice suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Maguindanao in just eight days. The Congress itself adjourned without touching the matter. The proclamation of martial law and ANTONIO T. corpus in this case. the Court DISMISSES the Associate Justice Associate Justice consolidated petitions on the ground that the same have become moot and academic. JR. lost until the case has been terminated.settled rule is that jurisdiction once acquired is not SO ORDERED. LEONARDO-DE CASTRO ARTURO D. In a real WE CONCUR: sense.

JR. A. SERENO BIENVENIDO DIOSDADO M. Article VIII of the Constitution. it is hereby certified that the conclusions in the above Decision had been reached in consultation before the case was assigned to the writer of the opinion of the Court. DEL CASTILLO MARTIN S. L. REYES BERSAMIN Associate Justice Associate Justice Associate Justice Associate Justice ESTELA M. PERALTA LUCAS P. Associate Justice VILLARAMA. PERLAS-BERNABE MARIANO C. CORONA Chief Justice . RENATO C. Associate Justice Associate Justice JOSE PORTUGAL PEREZ JOSE CATRAL CERTIFICATION MENDOZA Associate Justice Associate Justice Pursuant to Section 13. MARIA LOURDES P.