SC junks petition to compel Congress to hold joint session on martial law

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The Supreme Court in Manila. INTERAKSYON FILE PHOTO

MANILA – The Supreme Court has thrown out the petition to compel Congress to convene in joint session in order to tackle martial law in Mindanao, saying the Constitution compels lawmakers to hold such joint session only if they wished to revoke or extend a martial law proclamation.

Associate Justice Teresita de Castro penned the high court’s decision, which drew a unanimous vote, and came three days after a joint session of the House of Representatives and the Senate voted 261-18 to approve the President’s proposal to extend that original martial law until Dec. 31, 2017.

The SC decision on the earlier petition held that there was no abuse of discretion by Congress when it did not immediately convene a joint session after President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216, imposing a 60-day martial law in Mindanao starting May 23. That period lapsed last July 22, when Congress convened as a joint session to tackle the 150-day extension request.

According to the SC, the 1987 Constitution’s Article VII Section 18 clearly states that Congress is only mandated to convene in joint session if it wants to revoke or extend martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Justices Marvic Leonen and Benjamin Caguiao voted to throw out the petition because, they said, the issue has become moot and academic, after the July 22 joint session.