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The two chambers of the Congress of the Republic of the Philippines have spoken. They support the declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. The Senate and the House of Representatives also took the stand that no joint session of Congress is necessary to discuss and consider President Duterte’s declaration, including the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Despite these, there are still legislators who are firm on their stand that the two chambers should have met jointly because it is what the 1987 Philippine Constitution prescribes.

Following our system of government, the difference in the interpretation of the Constitutional provision on the action that the Philippine Congress needs to take regarding the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is now a matter for the Supreme Court to decide, should anyone pursue the matter.

Seeking the Supreme Court’s ruling on how the Philippine Congress should deal with the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus will only serve the purpose of directing the future action of Congress.

With how things are – particularly the “super majority” support of our legislators, particularly if you take how Senators and Representatives voted on the matter – a revocation of the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is out of the question.

The declaration and suspension are not on the clear yet. As the 1987 Philippine Constitution also provides for what we can call a “Supreme Court” safeguard, the “court of last resort” can rule against the matter through its decision on the question of a group of lawyers on the constitutionality of the martial law declaration.

We are now at a point in our nation’s history that the martial law safeguards enshrined in our Constitution will be tested. It is obvious that these safeguards are against the possible abuse of the extraordinary power granted to the President.

Our leaders who have decided and have yet to decide on the issue of martial law in Mindanao or in the whole country should not miss the more fundamental reason for having these safeguards – ensuring that the interest, welfare, and safety of the Filipino people are served and protected.

Let us not all miss the fact that these safeguards will not serve this fundamental reason not only when abuses are committed using the “powers” of martial law but also when it is not used when needed and necessary.
(Dr. Ramon Ricardo A. Roque, CESOI, Diplomate)