Philippines: Duterte ‘won’t listen’ to Congress, SC on martial law – 29 May 2017

  • President Duterte has vowed to ignore the Supreme Court and Congress as he enforces martial law across Mindanao despite the Constitution giving them oversight.
  • The 1987 Constitution imposes limits on martial law to prevent a repeat of the abuses carried out under the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was deposed by the people power revolution in 1986.
  • Duterte’s comments contradicted a government statement released on 27 May 17 to explain martial law. Duterte has overwhelming support in Congress, which this week is widely expected to endorse his initial declaration of martial law.
  • Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, however, on 26 May 17 expressed concerns about martial law, saying the sins of martial law during the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos could possibly be repeated under the current martial law.
  • But Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on 28 May 17 questioned her opinion, stressing that statements publicly made by Sereno might be uncalled for.
  • The justice secretary said prudence dictates that members of the high court, including the chief justice, must refrain from commenting on legal questions and issues up for SC review, adding that public statements by magistrates could be used as ground for inhibition in cases.
  • The SC has yet to lay down guidelines on the use of executive power to declare martial law after the Marcos regime.

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