MANILA – On Tuesday, July 4, the Supreme Court voted, with one dissent, to uphold the constitutionality of President Duterte’s 60-day martial law proclamation in Mindanao. Associate Justice Presbitero Velasco was one of 11 who voted to uphold it completely.
Here’s how the SC’s Public Information Office summarized Justice Velasco’s opinion:
1. In his concurrence, Justice Velasco agrees that the petitions would fall under the “appropriate proceeding” under Article VII, Section 18 and that it would be problematic for the Court to pigeonhole a petition inquiring into the sufficency of the factual basis for martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus into any of the existing rules. He concedes that the petitions are sui generis.
2. Justice Velasco submits that the inquiry must be on whether the President acted arbitrarily and not whether he had acted correctly. Thus, where a proclamation of martial law is bereft of sufficient factual basis, the Court can strike down the proclamation for having been made with grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.
3. In his opinion, the President did not commit grave abuse of discretion in declaring martial law considering the facts that he was confronted with. He also concurred with the ponencia that Marawi is in the heart of Mindanao and the rebels can easily join forces with other rebel and terrorist groups and extend the scope of the theater of active conflict to other areas of Mindanao.
4. Justice Velasco also discussed the powers that the President as Commander-in-Chief can exercise with a valid declaration of martial law or a suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. In exercising these broad powers, Justice Velasco reminded that the military must still be guided by law and jurisprudence and motivated by good faith in the exericse of the supreme force of the State even during martial law.
Below, full text of his opinion: