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What the President can and cannot do under martial law


Hours after the Maute group burned vital installations in Marawi City on Tuesday, President Rodrigo Duterte, while on official visit in Moscow, declared martial law in the whole of Mindanao.

Duterte became the third president to declare martial law after Ferdinand Marcos in 1972 and Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo in 2009.

Marcos declared martial law due to the communist rebellion while Arroyo did so in Maguindanao after members of the influential Ampatuan clan allegedly killed political opponents and dozens of journalists.

Duterte also declared a state of lawless violence in his hometown Davao City after a blast ripped through a popular night market, killing 12 and hurting 60 others, in September 2016.

"In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare martial law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days," said Abella in a statement.

Now what is provided for under 1987 Constitution as regards martial law?

Article VII, Section 18 of the Charter provides that "the President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion."

"In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law," the Constitution reads.

"Within forty-eight hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress," it adds.

Congressional, judicial review

In apparent reaction to the excesses of Marcos' martial law, the present Constitution provides for congressional and judicial processes to check the validity of the martial law declaration.

It provides that "Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President."

"Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it," the Constitution reads.

"The Congress, if not in session, shall, within twenty-four hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call," it adds.

Further, the constitution provides that "the Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the extension thereof, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing."

Constitution remains in force

Constitutional process also remain in force even under a martial law government.

"A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus," the Constitution says.

"The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in, or directly connected with, invasion," it adds.

"During the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released," the Charter reads. - NB/RSJ,GMA News

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