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Lagman, et. al. vs.

Executive Secretary
G.R. 231658, 231771 & 231774; July 4, 2017; Del Castillo, J.


Effective May 23, 2017, for a period not exceeding 60 days, President Rodrigo 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. This was done in response to the Marawi crisis, where the group of Isnilon Hapilon
sieged the city as a pledge of support to the ISIS and to establish a "Daesh". The consolidated petitions
basically question the factual sufficiency of the declaration of martial law.


Petition for certiorari is not the appropriate proceeding. It is also not correct to say that the power to review the
factual basis of the declaration of Martial Law falls under Section 1 and Section 5, Article VIII.

Rule 65 is not the appropriate proceeding because this refers to whether or not an official gravely abused
his/her authority amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction. The review of the sufficiency of the FACTUAL
basis of Martial Law cannot be done using the same standard of review. The jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
in reviewing the sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration of martial law is suis generis -- it is a special
ad specific jurisdiction of the Supreme Court aside from those enumerated in Section 1 (expanded jurisdiction
of the Court) and Section 5 (exclusive and original jurisdiction of the SC) of Article VIII. If the Court applies the
standard of review used in a petition for certiorari, the same would emasculate its constitutional task under
Section 18, Article VII. The framers of the Constitution added an additional safeguard under the third
paragraph of Section 18, Article VII on top of the expanded jurisdiction of the Court.

Lansang doctrine reiterated

According to the case of Garcia-Padilla vs. Enrile, decided after the declaration of martial law during the
presidency of Ferdnand Marcos, the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ
of habeas corpus is a political question and not subject to judicial review. The Garcia case overturned the
Lansang doctrine, an earlier case that declared that the factual basis of declaring martial law and the
suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus are subject to judicial inquiry. In the case at bar, the
Supreme Court made it clear that the 1987 Constitution (Section 18, Article VII) reverted to and
constitutionalized the Lansang doctrine.

The power of the Court 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 under Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution is
independent of the actions taken by Congress.

By this conclusion, the Court reversed the doctrine in Fortun vs. Macapagal-Arroyo insofar as it refers to the
role of Congress and the Supreme Court in the review of the factual basis of the declaration of martial law. In
Fortun, the Court declared that it was only on "standby" in case Congress defaults, but the Court made it clear
in the case at bar that the it can exercise its power of review simultaneously with the power of Congress to do
the same.

Graduation of powers: It refers to hierarchy based on scope and effect, and not to a sequence/order that the
President must adhere to. Also, the Court cannot calibrate the President's decision on which among the powers
he will avail of in a given situation.

The President as Commander-in-Chief has three extraordinary powers: (a) Calling out the armed forces, (b)
Suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, and (c) Declaring martial law.

Calling out the armed forces is the most benign and involves ordinary police action. It is done only when it is
necessary to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion. The only limitations are that the
president must act within constitutional boundaries and not in a manner constituting grave abuse of

For both the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and the declaration of martial law, the
president is allowed to resort to these only when there is actual invasion or rebellion AND public safety
requires it. It is limited to 60 days, subject to review and possible revocation by Congress, and also to review
and possible nullification by the Supreme Court. Insurrection and IMMINENT danger are NOT grounds for the
suspension of the writ or declaration of Martial Law. As a constitutionally granted power of the President, the
recommendation of the Defense Secretary to declare martial law is not a prerequisite.

During the period of martial law, the president exercises police power, which is normally a function of the
legislature. The president as commander-in-chief can also order arrests and seizures without judicial
warrants, ban public assemblies, takeover news media and agencies and censor the press, and issue
presidential decrees. Nonetheless, the president still does not have unbridled discretion to infringe the rights
of civilians because martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the
operation of civil courts or legislative assemblies.

Proclamation No. 216 is not vague and is, therefore, constitutional.

As held in this case, the void-for-vagueness doctrine applies only to free speech cases. Proclamation No. 216
does not regulate speech or any other fundamental right that may be facially challenged. It only seeks to
penalize conduct, not speech.

The inclusion of "other rebel groups" does not make the proclamation vague, as it should be interpreted in
relation to the other words that accompany it. They refer to the other rebel groups as found in Proclamation
No. 55 (calling out armed forces), which was cited in Proclamation No. 216 by way of reference in the
Whereas clauses.

The lack of operational parameters does not make the proclamation void. Operational guidelines are mere
tools for the implementation of the proclamation. Judicial review covers only the sufficiency of the
information or data at the time, or prior to the declaration or suspension. The review by this Court will be
confined to the proclamation itself and the report submitted to Congress. Any act committed under the said
orders in violation of the Constitution and the laws, such as criminal acts or human rights violations, should
be resolved in a separate proceeding.

Sufficiency of factual basis test

The president as Commander-in-Chief has the sole discretion to declare martial law and/or to suspend the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. The determination of this Court as to whether there is sufficient factual
basis for the exercise of such must ONLY be based on facts or information known by the President at the time
he made the declaration or suspension, which facts or information are already found in the proclamation as
well as the written Report submitted by him to Congress.

The Court cannot look at the absolute correctness of the facts, as this will unduly burden the president and
impede the process of decision-making. The Court should look into the full complement or totality of the
factual basis, and not piecemeal or individually. The Court does not need to satisfy itself that the President's
decision is correct, rather it only has to satisfy itself that the decision had sufficient factual bases. (Sufficiency
> accuracy)

Standard of proof is only probable cause.

The Supreme Court declared that the president only needs to satisfy probable cause to make a declaration of
martial law and to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. This is, according to the majority
decision, the most practical and most expedient standard by which the President can ascertain the existence
or non-existence of rebellion. Based on the facts cited in the 2 proclamations and the report to Congress, the
Court found that the factual circumstances in Marawi warranted the declaration of Martial Law. As to other
parts of Mindanao, the Court took notice of the fact that the Maute group has established extensive networks
and linkages with foreign and local armed groups.

The counter-evidence provided by the petitioners were not given credence. As found by the Court, the
counter-evidence came from unverified news reports. The ruling in Bedol vs. Commission on Elections on the
admissiblity of independent relevant statements does not apply. Independent relevant statements are reliable
only when the statements are relevant and when the truth or falsity thereof is immaterial. In the case at bar,
the truth or falsity of the contents of the news reports is material.

Maute groups are terrorists. Although terrorism is not cited as a ground to declare martial law, terrorism and
rebellion are not mutually exclusive.

Terrorism neither negates nor absorbs rebellion. Objective of a terrorist is to sow and create a condition of
widespread fear among the populace in order for the government to give in to an unlawful demand. Rebellion
is political. Nonetheless, nothing in Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code nor RA 9372 makes them mutually
exclusive. In fact, rebellion may be subsumed under the crime of terrorism, which is broader in scope and
covers a wide range of predicate crimes. Rebellion is only one of the various means by which terrorism can be