Congress vote to mean ‘almost powerless’ SC

Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II

MANILA — The Supreme Court would be rendered “almost powerless” once Congress votes to uphold President Duterte’s imposition of martial law in Mindanao, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said on Monday.

In a press briefing, Aguirre noted that the 1987 Constitution stated that members of the House and the Senate should vote jointly to rule on the validity of the martial rule declaration.

He warned that a constitutional crisis might arise if the 15-member high tribunal would later decide against the congressional vote and conclude that Mr. Duterte’s order had no factual basis.

“If Congress has already resolved or determined that the proclamation is valid, the Supreme Court, in my opinion, is almost powerless to override the declaration of the Congress and the President,” he said.

“Why? Because if the Congress said that the declaration is improper and thus the declaration of martial law is revoked, nobody can overturn that revocation, not even the Supreme Court,” he continued.

He insisted that the President opted to place Mindanao under martial law after terrorists belonging to the Maute group attacked Marawi City last week.

“This is rebellion,” he said. “I believe that in view of the declaration of the President and the [possible] concurrence of Congress, the only way that the Supreme Court could oppose this is when it [rules] that the President acted arbitrarily. That’s difficult to prove.”