ISSUE: Whether or not the Presidential Proclamation of Martial Law and suspension of the privelege of Habeas Corpus in 2009 in Central Mindanao which were withdrawn after just eight days is constitutional
FACTS: On November 23, 2009 heavily armed men, believed led by the ruling Ampatuan family, gunned down and buried under shoveled dirt 57 innocent civilians on a highway in Maguindanao. In response to this carnage, on November 24 President Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 1946, declaring a state of emergency in Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat, and Cotabato City to prevent and suppress similar lawless violence in Central Mindanao. Believing that she needed greater authority to put order in Maguindanao and secure it from large groups of persons that have taken up arms against the constituted authorities in the province, on December 4, 2009 President Arroyo issued Presidential Proclamation 1959 declaring... martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in that province except for identified areas of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front On December 9, 2009 Congress, in joint session, convened pursuant to Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution to review the validity of the President's action. But, two days later or on December 12 before Congress could act, the President issued Presidential Proclamation 1963, lifting martial law and restoring the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Maguindanao.
DECISION: Moot and Academic; Political Issue; Dismissed
RATIO DECIDENDI: It is evident that under the 1987 Constitution the President and the Congress act in tandem in exercising the power to proclaim martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. They exercise the power, not only sequentially, but in a sense jointly... since, after the President has initiated the proclamation or the suspension, only the Congress can maintain the same based on its own evaluation of the situation on the ground, a power that the President does not have. Consequently, although the Constitution reserves to the Supreme Court the power to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation or suspension in a proper suit, it is implicit that the Court must allow Congress to exercise its own review powers, which is... automatic rather than initiated. Only when Congress defaults in its express duty to defend the Constitution through such review should the Supreme Court step in as its final rampart. The constitutional validity of the President's proclamation of martial law or... suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is first a political question in the hands of Congress before it becomes a justiciable one in the hands of the Court. Here, President Arroyo withdrew Proclamation 1959 before the joint houses of Congress, which had in fact convened, could act on the same. Consequently, the petitions in these cases have become moot and the Court has nothing to review. The lifting of martial law and... restoration of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Maguindanao was a supervening event that obliterated any justiciable controversy