MANILA— Once affirmed by the House of the Representatives and Senate, the Supreme Court cannot overrule the validity of President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday.
Once Congress declares the imposition of martial law for 60 days in Mindanao is valid, the SC “is almost powerless” to override the Congress and the President.
“The SC is almost powerless to override the declaration of Congress and the President,” Aguirre told reporters during the press briefing on Monday held at DOJ in Manila.
Aguirre cited the very detailed report that the President submitted to Congress justifying the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
While he acknowledged the provision in Article 7, Section 18 of the Constitution that gives the SC 30 days within which to decide on a petition questioning the factual basis for martial declaration, Aguirre said the Court would still have to defer to the position of the President and Congress.
“I believe that in view of the declaration of the President and the concurrence of Congress the only way that the SC could oppose this is when it shows that the act, that the President acted arbitrarily, which is very difficult to prove,” he noted.
The DOJ chief has urged House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Auilino Pimentel III to convene Congress and give its approval to the martial declaration and not leave the matter to the SC.
“I believe that Congress must meet in a joint session, otherwise, they would not have the option whether to revoke or to affirm the martial law declaration and this will allow the SC to have the last say on the issue,” he explained.
Aguirre also said that the statement made by Chief Justice Ma. Lourdes Sereno on the situation of the country, particularly in Mindanao is premature.
“I’ve heard of it but I believe that is premature, that should have been said because an action or a petition before the SC could be raised before it. Kasi baka mayroong isyu na ganun ang pumasok dun and then she has already prejudged the situation of the country,” Aguirre said when sought for a comment.
Sereno in her speech at the Ateneo De Manila Loyola Schools Commencement exercises last Friday urged Filipinos to make a stand and act against culture of impunity and protect the fundamental human rights and freedoms as well as the government institutions following Duterte’s imposition of martial law.
Sereno noted that the culture of impunity in the country is on the rise and the people’s fundamental human rights and freedoms are facing “grave and blatant threats.”