SC urged to rule on petitions for joint session on martial law

PETITIONERS led by former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay on Friday urged the Supreme Court (SC) to decide on consolidated petitions that sought to compel Congress to jointly convene to review President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Duterte's proclamation 216 that placed the entire Mindanao under martial law for 60 days will expire on July 22, two days before the President's second State of the Nation Address (Sona).

In a 10-page manifestation filed on Friday, the petitioners asked the SC to rule on the petitions before the period lapses, "lest the case be mooted by sheer lapse of time."

Aside from Hilbay, other petitioners in the mandamus petition include Alexander Padia, Rene Saguisag, Christian Monsod, Loretta Rosales, Rene Ballesteros and detained Senator Leila de Lima.

In the petition, the petitioners said that the Congress failed to perform its constitutional duty to conduct a judicial review required by the 1987 constitution when they failed to tackle martial law in a joint session.

The both chambers of Congress failed to convene jointly to review the martial law declaration of Duterte since its issuance on May 23.

Insisting that they will only need to discuss in a joint session had they decide to revoke or extend martial law, lawmakers instead released respective resolutions upholding the President's declaration.

"Considering the foregoing, Congress must now fulfill its constitutionally-mandated duty-- just as the Honorable Court fulfilled its own in Lagman v. Medialdea-- to convene, deliberate, and vote jointly on Presidential Proclamation no. 216," the manifestation read.

"This duty is required by the Constitution for a reason: to ensure the people, through their representatives, are able to engage, to the fullest extent possible, in a open and robust discussion of the merits (or lack thereof) of the exercise of such a potent power that is, essence, anti-democratic and so prone to abuse," it added.

The SC previously ruled to dismiss the separate consolidated petitions filed by militant groups, lawmakers belonging to the minority and Marawi citizens aiming to revoke said proclamation.

The SC, in a vote of 11-3-1, upheld the martial law and said there is enough factual basis for its issuance. (SunStar Philippines)
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