MANILA, Philippines — Catholic bishops and former Senator Wigberto Tanada joined in filing another petition asking the Supreme Court to order Congress to convene in joint session to debate President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
“It is most respectfully prayed that this Honorable Supreme Court: declare the refusal of Congress to convene a joint session for the purpose of considering Proclamation No. 216, s. 2017, to be in grave abuse of discretion amounting to a lack or excess of jurisdiction; and issue a Writ of Mandamus directing Congress to convene in joint session for the aforementioned purpose,” the petition, filed Wednesday, said.
“A plain reading of the 1987 Constitution leads to the indubitable conclusion that a joint session of Congress to review a declaration of Martial Law by the President is mandatory” and failure to do so “deprives the public of transparent proceedings within which to be informed of the factual bases of the declaration of Martial law,” it said.
Aside from Tanada, the petitioners are Manila Auxiliary Bishop Broderick Pabillo, Bishop Antonio Tobias, Bishop Emeritus Deogracias Iniguez, Mother Adelaida Ygrubay of the Order of St. Benedict, Shamah Bulangis, and Cassandra D. Deluria.
The petition is the third to question Duterte’s declaration and is the first challenge from Catholic leaders.
Earlier, Catholic bishops in Mindanao said they “do not have solid and sufficient facts to absolutely reject the declaration of martial law as morally reprehensible” but stressed that the measure “must be temporary” and vowed to “condemn any abuse.”
On Monday, opposition lawmakers filed a petition asking the high court to nullify Duterte’s declaration. On Tuesday, the first petition asking the tribunal to order a joint session of Congress was filed by, among others, former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, former Senator Rene Saguisag, detained Senator Leila de Lima, former Commission on Human Rights chair Loretta Ann Rosales and former peace negotiator Alex Padilla.
The petition of Tanada and the bishops laid down the following arguments:
“Firstly, a plain reading of the 1987 Constitution leads to the indubitable conclusion that a Joint Session of Congress to review a declaration of Martial Law by the President is mandatory;
“Secondly, it is the intent of the framers of the 1987 Constitution that legislative review be mandatory, and that the convening of a joint session contemplates a physical convening;
“Thirdly, jurisprudence holds that the power to declare Martial Law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, while vested in the President, is shared with Congress; in order for Congress to exercise its power, it necessarily must convene jointly; and
“Fourthly, failure to convene a joint session deprives lawmakers of a deliberative and interrogatory process to review Martial Law, and deprives the public of transparent proceedings within which to be informed of the factual bases of the declaration and the intended parameters of its implementation.
READ THE PETITION FILED BY THE BISHOPS AND FORMER SENATOR TANADA:
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