Reviewing the Declaration of Martial Law
In response to the attack of the Maute Group militants in Marawi City last 23 May 2017, President Rodrigo Duterte, through Proclamation No. 216, declared Martial Law following the clash, citing rebellion as a justification.
Thereafter, both the Senate and House of Representatives issued legislative resolutions in support of the declaration and indicating that there is no need for them to review Martial Law. These statements generated protest from several sectors of society, echoing the fear from the Martial Law during the Marcos Era.
Under Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution, the President is required to submit a report in person or in writing to Congress within 48 hours upon the declaration of Martial Law. Congress, if not in session, shall, within 24 hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call. The automatic duty of Congress is to review the declaration, as characterized by the Supreme Court in the case of Fortun vs. Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.
Review of the factual basis of the declaration of Martial law is also vested in the Supreme Court. It may revoke the same if the basis is found insufficient. However, this responsibility only triggers when the Congress defaults in its duty to defend the Constitution.
These safeguards are necessary to guarantee that there would be no abuse of power, violation of human rights, and similar atrocities faced by the populace during the Marcos era Martial Law. The review mechanisms ensure that sufficient care is taken to abide by the Constitution and the laws, and to never allow absolute power to reign.