Representative Lagman asked, if the purpose of judicial review is not the determination of accuracy or veracity of the facts anchoring the declaration of martial law, how can inaccurate or false facts satisfy the quantum of sufficiency?
MANILA – In response to what he perceived as “serious errors” in the Supreme Court ruling upholding the declaration of martial law in the whole of Mindanao, Albay Representative Edcel Lagman said his group will file an appeal.
“After perusing the ponencia or the majority decision, the opposition congressmen-petitioners have resolved to contest the ruling in a motion for reconsideration (MR),” Lagman said in a statement. “Serious errors in the majority decision will be exposed and expounded in the MR.”
Lagman was one of the petitioners who asked the high tribunal to nullify Proclamation 216 declaring martial law, arguing that it lacked factual basis.
He was joined in the petition by minority Reps. Teddy Baguilat, Edgar Erice, Emmanuel Billones, Tom Villarin and Gary Alejano.
In a statement, Lagman identified the following “serious flaws” among others, in the majority decision:
1. The high court’s finding that the factual allegations in Proclamation No. 216 and subsequent President’s Report to the Congress constitute “sufficient factual basis” for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
This determination failed to appreciate that the factual averments in the two aforesaid fundamental documents were irrelevant, false and/or not evincing actual rebellion.
The majority decision proceeded to emphasize that “the purpose of judicial review is not the determination of accuracy or veracity of the facts upon which the President anchored his declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”
If this is so, how can inaccurate or false facts satisfy the quantum of sufficiency?
The decision said further that “the President is expected to decide quickly on whether there is need to proclaim martial law even only on the basis of intelligence reports, it is irrelevant, for purposes of the Court’s review, if subsequent events prove that the situation had not been accurately reported to him.”
If the facts reported to the President are not accurate, then the sufficiency of the factual basis is eroded.
2. The decision failed to judiciously determine that actual rebellion existed in Marawi City and in the whole of Mindanao as of 23 May 2017 because the element of culpable political purpose is palpably absent.
3. Since it is the Executive which has the “monopoly of information”, news accounts as secondary sources of information must be given credence and removed from the hearsay rule, considering that said news reports are: (a) statements of government officials whose acts are clothed with presumption of regularity; (b) the news accounts are not contradicted; and (c) they are corroborated by independent news outlets.
He said that the grant of special and specific jurisdiction to the Supreme Court under Section 18 of Article VII of the Constitution to review the sufficiency of the factual basis for the imposition of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is one of the many safeguards enshrined in the 1987 Constitution “to preempt the recurrence of the abuses and excesses which martial law spawned under the Marcos regime.”
“This safeguard was denigrated by the majority decision which effectively deferred to the discretion of the President and gave him ‘much leeway and flexibility’ to declare martial law because it is he who has the arsenal of intelligence information to warrant such declaration,” he said.
“This disquisition virtually closes the door for the Supreme Court to fully review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President’s exercise of extreme emergency powers,” Lagman added.
He said the majority decision “even went to the extent of pronouncing that the territorial coverage of martial law is subject to the President’s discretion, thus paving the way for an expanded territorial ambit of a martial law declaration.”