Constitution ‘silent’ on number of times martial law may be extended

Supreme Court Ruling

IN AFFIRMING Congress’ power to extend and determine the period of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the Supreme Court (SC) said on Tuesday that there is no limit on how many times or how long such a proclamation can be extended.

“The Constitution is silent on how many times Congress may extend a proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It also does not fix a period for the duration of any extension of a proclamation or suspension,” the SC said in the same decision that dismissed the four petitions against martial law extension in Mindanao.

The high court said it is up to Congress to determine the length of the extension.

“The 60-day period of the initial proclamation and/or suspension by the President cannot be considered to apply to any extension as determined by Congress,” the SC noted.

It added that the manner of Congress’ deliberation with respect to the President’s request for extension of martial law in Mindanao for one year is not subject to judicial review.

“Each House of Congress has full discretionary authority to formulate, adopt and promulgate its own rules; the exercise of this power is generally exempt from judicial supervision and interference, except on a clear showing of such arbitrary and improvident use of the power such as would constitute a denial of due process,” the SC said.

Petitioners alleged that the House of Representatives hastily approved President Rodrigo Duterte’s request for the extension of martial law in Mindanao.

But the high tribunal asserted that such allegation is not a ground to nullify the extension of martial law in the region. /

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