SC junks petitions to force Congress
to convene on martial law in ‘moot’ ruling

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THE Supreme Court en banc has voted to dismiss a petition to force Congress to convene in a joint session to deliberate President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

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Thirteen justices voted on the ruling, penned by Associate Justice Teresita Leonardo De Castro, which said that the high tribunal could not compel the two houses to convene in a joint session.

The high court said that there was no grave abuse of discretion committed by the legislative department when it did not convene jointly at the time martial law was declared.

At the same time, the tribunal said that its ruling has been rendered “moot” when the Senate and the House decided to hold a special joint session last Saturday and voted to grant the President’s request to extend martial law for another five months.

There were two groups of petitioners:

The first was Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, former Sen. Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada, and student groups.

Former senator Rene Saguisag; former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Christian Monsod; former Commission on Human Rights chairperson Loretta Ann Rosales; former Philippine Health Insurance Corporation president Alexander Padilla; lawyer Rene Gorospe; and Senator Leila de Lima comprised the second group.

Both petitions said a joint session of Congress to review a declaration of martial law by the President was mandatory under the 1987 Constitution.

They also said that failure to convene a joint session deprived lawmakers the chance to scrutinize the declaration and the public of transparent proceedings within which to be informed of the factual bases of Duterte’s action.

 

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