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SC junks bid seeking joint session on ML

By: Rey G. Panaligan

The Supreme Court voted unanimously yesterday to dismiss two petitions that wanted to compel Congress to convene in a joint session to tackle the validity of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao last May 23.

Thirteen justices, led by Justice Teresita J. Leonardo-de Castro, voted to dismiss the petitions “on the ground that Congress did not gravely abuse its discretion in not convening jointly upon the President’s issuance of Proclamation No. 216.”

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, Senior Justices Antonio T. Carpio, and Justices Presbitero J. Velasco Jr., Diosdado M. Peralta, Mariano C. del Castillo, Lucas P. Bersamin, Estela Perlas Bernabe, Jose Catral Mendoza, Francis Jardeleza, Samuel Martirez, Noel Tijam, and Andres Reyes Jr. joined De Castro in her majority decision.

They said that Section 18, Article 7 of the Constitution “imposes no such duty on Congress to convene, such duty (to convene and vote) being limited to instances where Congress intends to revoke or extend any proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”

Justices Marvic Mario Victor Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa voted to dismiss the petitions for being “moot and academic.”

The petitions dismissed were those filed by the groups of Alexander Padilla and former Sen. Wigberto Tanada.

Congress voted unanimously last Saturday to extend the imposition of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao until the end of this year.

The SC had earlier declared Proclamation No. 216 that imposed martial law in Mindanao constitutional.