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Lagman vs.

Medialdea government operation by intensifying their

efforts at sowing violence aimed not only
against the government authorities and its
facilities but likewise against civilians and
their properties
Effective May 23, 2017, and for a
On 23 May 2017, a government
period not exceeding 60 days, President
operation to capture Isnilon Hapilon,
Rodrigo Roa Duterte issued Proclamation
a senior leader of the ASG, and
No. 216 declaring a state of martial law and
Maute Group operational leaders,
suspending the privilege of the writ of
Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute,
habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao.
was confronted with armed
Within the timeline set by Section resistance which escalated into open
18, Article VII of the Constitution, the hostility against the government.
President submitted to Congress on May 25, Through these groups' armed siege
2017, a written Report on the factual basis and acts of violence directed
of Proclamation No. 216. towards civilians and government
authorities, institutions and
The Report pointed out that for establishments, they were able to
decades, Mindanao has been plagudd with take control of major social,
rebellion and lawless violence which only economic, and political foundations
escalated and worsened with the passing of of Marawi City which led to its
time. paralysis. This sudden taking of
control was intended to lay the
Mindanao has been the hotbed of groundwork for the eventual
violent extremism and a brewing establishment of a DAESH wilayat or
rebellion for decades. In more recent province in Mindanao
years, we have witnessed the
perpetration of numerous acts of The unfolding of these events, as
violence challenging the authority of well as the classified reports he received,
the duly constituted authorities, i.e., led the President to conclude that:
the Zamboanga siege, the Davao
bombing, the Mamasapano carnage, These activities constitute not
and the bombings in Cotabato, simply a display of force, but a clear
Sultan Kudarat, Sulu, and Basilan, attempt to establish the groups' seat
among others. Two armed groups of power in Marawi City for their
have figured prominently in all planned establishment of a DAESH
these, namely, the Abu Sayaff Group wilayat or province covering the
(ASG) and the ISIS-backed Maute entire Mindanao.
The cutting of vital lines for
The President went on to explain transportation and power; the
that on May 23, 2017, a governmet recruitment of young Muslims to
operation to capture the high-ranking further expand their ranks and
officers of the Abu Sayyaf (ASG) and the strengthen their force; the armed
Maute Group was conducted. These groups, consolidation of their members
which have been unleashing havoc in throughout Marawi City; the
Mindanao, however, confronted the decimation of a segment of the city
population who resist; and the
brazen display of DAESH flags Proclamation No. 216 "to be satisfactory,
constitute a clear, pronounced, and constitutional and in accordance with the
unmistakable intent to remove law". In the same Resolution, the Senate
Marawi City, and eventually the rest declared that it found "no compelling
of Mindanao, from its allegiance to reason to revoke the same".
the Government.
The Senate's counterpart in the
There exists no doubt that lawless lower house shared the same sentiments.
armed groups are attempting to
deprive the President of his power, Lagmans petition are as follows;
authority, and prerogatives within
- there is no rebellion or
Marawi City as a precedent to
invasion in Marawi City or in
spreading their control over the
any part of Mindanao. It
entire Mindanao, in an attempt to
argues that acts of terrorism
undermine his control over
ih Mindanao do not
executive departments, bureaus, and
constitute rebellion 12 since
offices in said area; defeat his
there is no proof that its
mandate to ensure that all laws are
purpose is to remove
faithfully executed; and remove his
Mindanao or any part thereof
supervisory powers over local
from allegiance to the
Philippines, its laws, or its
The groups' occupation of Marawi territory. 13 It labels the
City fulfills a strategic objective flying of ISIS flag by the
because of its terrain and the easy Maute Group in Marawi City
access it provides to other parts of and other outlying areas as
Mindanao. Lawless armed groups mere propaganda1 1 4 and
have historically used provinces not an open attempt to
adjoining Marawi City as escape remove such areas from the
routes, supply lines, and backdoor allegiance to t Philippine
passages. Government and deprive the
Chief Executive of the
Considering the network and assertion an exercise of his
alliance-building act1v1tles among powers and prerogatives
terrorist groups, local criminals, and therein.
lawless armed men, the siege of - The Lagman Petition also
Marawi City is a vital cog in attaining avers that L~. Gen. Salvador
their long-standing goal: absolute Mison, Jr. himself admitted
control over the entirety of that the current armed
Mindanao. These circumstances conflict in Marawi City was
demand swift and decisive action to precipitated or initiated by
ensure the s~fety ~}ecurity of the the government in its bid to
Filipino people and preserve our capture Hapilon.
national integrity - That all the acts of terrorism
found in the report of
After the submission of the Report Duterte are fake
and the briefings, the Senate issued P.S. - the Lagman Petition claims
Resolution No. 3888 expressing full support that the declaration of
to the martial law proclamation and finding
martial law has no sufficient that there is no lawless
factual basis considering that violence in other parts of
the President acted alone and Mindanao similar to that in
did not consult the military Marawi City.
establishment or any ranking - In addition, the Cullamat
officiai27 before making the Petition cites alleged
proclamation. inaccuracies, exaggerations,
- Based on the review by and falsities in the Report of
senate, there was absence of the President to Congress.
any hostile plan by the Moro
Islamic Liberation Front; and Mohamads Petitions:
the number of foreign
- It contends that the
fighters allied with ISIS was
extraordinary powers of the
"undetermined"28 which
President should be
indicates that there are only
dispensed sequentially, i.e.,
a meager number of foreign
first, the power to call out
fighters who can lend
the arme,d forces; second,
support to the Maute Group
the power to suspend the
Culamats Petitions: privilege of the writ of habejs
corpus; and finally, the
- In particular, it avers that the power to declare martial
supposed rebellion described law.48 It maintains that t~e
i Proclamation No. 216 President has no discretion
relates to events happening to choose which
in Marawi City only an not in extraordinary power to us~;
the entire region of moreover, his choice must be
Mindanao. It concludes that dictated only by, and
Proclamation No 216 "failed commensurate to, t1e
to show any factual basis for exigencies of the situation
the imposition of martial law - It asserts that th Marawi
in th entire Mindanao,"35 incidents "do not equate to
"failed to allege any act of the existence of a public
rebellion outside Maraw' necessit brought about by an
City, much less x x x allege actual rebellion, which would
that public safety requires compel the imposition at 1f
the imposition o martial law martial law or the
in the whole of Mindanao". suspension of the privilege
- The Cullamat Petition claims of the writ of habea corpus".
that the alleged "capability of - Report of Duterte regarding
the Maute Group and other martial law is bereft of
rebel groups to sow terror substantiation
and cause death and damage - Finally, in invoking this
to property"37 does not rise Court's power to review the
to the level of rebellion sufficiency oe the factual
sufficient to declare martial basis for the declaration of
law in the whole of martial law and the
Mindanao. 38 It also posits suspension of the\ privilege
of the writ of habeas corpus, President's discretio to an
the Mohamad Petition insists impossible standard. 70 It
that the Court may "look into reiterates that the President's
the wisdom of the decision shoul be guided
[President's] actions, [and] only by the information and
not just the presence of data available to him at the
arbitrariness". time h made the
determination. 71 The OSG
Governments petition: thus asserts that facts that
wer established after the
- The OSG acknowledges that
declaration of martial law
Section 18, Article VII of the
should not be considered i
Constitution vests the Court
the review of the sufficiency
with the authority or power
of the factual basis of the
to review the sufficiency of
proclamation of martial law.
the factual basis of the
o The OSG fears that i~
declaration of martial law.60
the Court considers
The OSG, however, posits
that although Section 18,
facts in its review of
Article VII lays the basis for
the sufficiency of the
the exercise of such
factual basis for the
authority or power, the same
proclamation, it
constitutional provision
would in effect usurp
failed to specify the vehicle,
the powers of the
mode or remedy through
Congress to
which the "appropriate
determine whether
proceeding" mentioned
martial law should be
therein may be resorted to.
revoked or extended.
- Sufficiency of facts in the
- Since the power to declare
proclamation should be
martial law is vested solely
reviewed under the lens of
on the President as
grave abuse of discretion
Commander-in-Chief, the
- Likewise, the OSG posits that
lack of recommendation
the sufficiency of the factual
from the Defense Secretary,
basis musk be assessed from
or any official for that
the trajectory or point of
matter, will not nullify the
view of the President and
said declaration, or affect its
base on the facts available to
validity, or compromise the
him at the time the decision
sufficiency of the factual
was made.69 It argue that
the sufficiency of the factual
- Moreover, the OSG opines
basis should be examined
that the petitioners
not based on th facts
miserably failed to validly
discovered after the
refute the facts cited by the
President had made his
President in Proclamation
decision to declare martfa
No. 216 and in his Report to
law because to do so would
the Congress by merely
subject the exercise of the
citing news reports that One of the requisites for judicial review is
supposedly contradict the locus standi, i.e., "the constitutional
facts asserted therein or by question is brought before [the Court] by a
criticizing in piecemeal the party having the requisite 'standing' to
happenings in Marawi. For challenge it."79 As a general rule, the
the OSG, the said news challenger must have "a personal and
articles are "hearsay substantial interest in the case such that he
evidence, twice removed,"75 has sustained, or will sustain, direct injury
and thus inadmissible and as a result of its enforcement."80 Over the
without probative value, and years, there has been a trend towards
could not overcome the relaxation of the rule on legal standing, a
"legal presumption bestowed prime example of which is found in Section
on governmental acts". 18 of Article VII which provides that any
- Finally, the OSG points out citizen may file the appropriate proceeding
that it has no duty or burden to assail the sufficiency of the factual basis
to prove that Proclamation of the declaration of martial law or the
No. 216 has sufficient factual suspension of the privilege of the writ of
basis. It maintains that the habeas corpus. "[T]he only requisite for
burden rests with the standing to challenge the validity of the
petitioners. (He who alleges suspension is that the challenger be a
must prove) citizen. He need not even be a taxpayer."

ISSUES Petitioners in the Cullamat Petition claim to

be "suing in their capacities as citizens of the
- W/N the petition to review the validity Republic;"82 similarly, petitioners in the
of declaring martial law is appropriate Mohamad Petition all claim to be "Filipino
- W/N petitioners has locus standi citizens, all women, all of legal [age], and
- W/N respondents has the burden of residents of Marawi City".
- W/N the facts which the proclamation In the Lagman petition, petitioners therein
was based depends on the approval of did not categorically mention that they are
the defense secretary; that facts on suing's citizens but merely referred to
which it is based must include future themselves as duly elected Representatives
facts: that facts are correct
- W/N the power to review by the court Considering, however , the trend towards
is independent on the power to review relaxation of the rules on legal standing, as
by the legislature well as i e transcendental issues involved in
- W/N the power to review by the court the present Petitions, the Court will exercise
calibrates the power of the president judicial self-restraint85 and will not venture
- W/N there is an actual rebellion into this matter.
- W/N the proclamation fits the void for
In any case, the Court can take judicial
vagueness doctrine
cognizance of the fact that petitioners in the
RULING Lagman Petition are at! citizens of the
Philippines since Philippine citizenship is a
o LOCUS STANDI ISSUE requirement fof them to be elected as
YES, ALL PETITIONERS HAS representatives. We will therefore consider
LOCUS STANDI them a! suing in their own behalf as citizens
of this country. Besides, respondent did not would emasculate its constitutional task
question petitioners' legal standing. under Section 18, Article VII.

APPROPRIATE PROCEEDING TO Section 18, Article VII is meant to provide

QUESTION MARTIAL LAW additional safeguard against possible abuse
o IT DOES NOT REFER TO by the President in the exercise of his power
PETITION FOR CERTIORARI it to declare martial law or suspend the
is SUI GENERIS privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Reeling from the aftermath of the Marcos
During the oral argument, the petitioners martial law, the framers of the Constitution
theorized that the jurisdiction of this Court deemed it wise to insert the now third
under the third paragraph of Section 18, paragraph of Section 18 of Article VII.
Article VII is sui generis. 87 It is a special
and specific jurisdiction of the Supreme To give more teeth to this additional
Court different from those enumerated in safeguard, the framers of the 1987
Sections 1 and 5 of Article VIII. Constitution not only placed the President's
proclamation of martial law or suspension
It is settled that jurisdiction over the of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
subject matter is conferred only by the within the ambit of judicial review, it also
Constitution or by the law. 89 Unless relaxed the rule on standing by allowing any
jurisdiction has been specifically conferred citizen to question before this Court the
by the Constitution or by some legislative sufficiency of the factual basis of such
act, no body or tribunal has the power to proclamation or suspension. Moreover, the
act or pass upon a matter brought before it third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII
for resolution. It is likewise settled that in veritably conferred upon any citizen a
the absence of a clear legislative intent, demandable right to challenge the
jurisdiction cannot be implied from the sufficiency of the factual basis of said
language of the Constitution or a statute.90 proclamation or suspension. It further
It must appear clearly from the law or it will designated this Court as the reviewing
not be held to exist.91 tribunal to examine, in an appropriate
proceeding, the sufficiency of the factual
A plain reading of the afore-quoted Section
basis , and to render its decision thereon
18, Article VII reveals that it specifically
within a limited period of 30 days from
grants authority to the Court to determine
date of filing
the sufficiency of the factual basis of the
proclamation of martial law or suspension The most important objective, however, of
of the privilege of the writ of habeas Section 18, Article VII is the curtailment of
corpus. the extent of the powers of the
Commander-in-Chief. This is the primary
The standard of review in a petition for
reason why the provision was not placed in
certiorari is whether the respondent has
Article VIII or the Judicial Department but
committed any grave abuse of discretion
remained under Article VII or the Executive
amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction in
the performance of his or her functions.
Thus, it is not the proper tool to review the While traditional powers inherent in
sufficiency of the factual basis of the the office of the President are
proclamation or suspension. Put differently, granted, nonetheless for the first
if this Court applies the standard of review time, there are specific provisions
used in a petition for certiorari, the sartje which curtail the extent of such
powers. Most significant is the likewise not applicable under the third
power of the Chief Executive to paragraph of Section 18, Article VII
suspend the privilege of the writ of considering the limited period within which
habeas corpus or proclaim martial this Court has to promulgate its decision.
In fine, the phrase "in an appropriate
To conclude that the "appropriate proceeding" appearing on the third
proceeding" refers to a Petition for Certiorari paragraph of Section 18, Article VII refers to
filed under the expanded jurisdiction of this any action initiated by a citizen for the
Court would, therefore, contradict the clear purpose of questioning the sufficiency of the
intention of the framers of the Constitution factual basis of the exercise of the Chief
to place additional safeguards against Executive's emergency powers, as in these
possible martial law abuse for, invariably, cases. It could be denominated as a
the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII complaint, a petition, or a matter to be
would be subsumed under Section 1 of resolved by the Court
Article VIII. In other words, the framers of
the Constitution added the safeguard under REVIEW OF THE COURT
the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII INDEPENDENT FROM REVIEW OF
on top ofthe expanded jurisdiction of this CONGRESS
The jurisdiction of this Court is not CONGRESS
restricted to those enumerated in Sections 1
and 5 of Article VIII. For instance, its The framers of the 1987 Constitution
jurisdiction to be the sole judge of all reformulated the scope of the/
contests relating to the election, returns, extraordinary powers of the President as
and qualifications of the President or Vice- Commander-in-Chief and the review of the
President can be found in the last said presidential action. In particular, the
paragraph of Section 4, Article VII.102 The President' extraordinary powers of
power of the Court to review on certiorari suspending the privilege of the writ of
the decision, order, or ruling of the habeas corpus and imposing martial law are
Commission on Elections and Commission subject to the veto powers of the Court1
on Audit can be found in Section 7, Article and Congress.
The Court may strike down the presidential
The unique features of the third paragraph proclamation in anl appropriate proceeding
of Section 18, Article VII clearly indicate that filed by any citizen on the ground of lack 01
it should be treated as sui generis separate sufficient factual basis. On the other hand,
and different from those enumerated in Congress may revoke the proclamation or
Article VIII. Under the third paragraph of suspension, which revocation shall not be
Section 18, Article VII, a petition filed set aside by th e President.
pursuant therewith will follow a different
In reviewing the sufficiency of the factual
rule on standing as any citizen may file it.
basis of the proclamation o~ suspension,
Said provision of the Constitution also limits
the Court considers only the information
the issue to the sufficiency of the factual
and data available to the President prior to
basis of the exercise by the Chief Executive of
or at the time of the declaration; it is not
his emergency powers. The usual period for
allowed to "undertake an independent
filing pleadings in Petition for Certiorari is
investigation beyond the pleadings."106 On
thd other hand, Congress may take into stray declaration, which must be rectified
consideration not only data available prior and set aside in this proceeding.
to, but likewise events supervening the
declaration. Unlike the Court I which does We, therefore, hold that the Court can
not look into the absolute correctness of simultaneously exercise its power of review
the factual basis as will be discussed below, with, and independently from, the power to
Congress could probe deeper and further; it revoke by Congress. Corollary, any
can delve into the accuracy of the facts perceived inaction or default on the part of
presented before it Congress does not deprive or deny the Court
of its power to review.
In addition, the Court's review power is
passive; it is only initiated by the filing of a CALIBRATION OF THE PRESIDENTS
petition "in an appropriate proceeding" by a POWER
citizen. On the other hand, Congress' review o NO, IT DOES NOT CALIBRATE
mechanism is automatic in the sense that it , THE PRESIDENTS POWER
may be activated by Congress itself at any VESTED BY THE
time after the proclamation or suspension CONSTITUTION
was made.
Among the three extraordinary powers, the
Thus, the power to review by the Court and calling out power is the most benign and
the power to revoke by Congress are not involves ordinary police action. 114 The
only totally different but likewise President may resort to this extraordinary
independent from each other although power whenever it becomes necessary to
concededly, they have the same trajectory, prevent or suppress lawless violence,
which is, the nullification of the presidential invasion, or rebellion. "[T]he power to call is
proclamation. Needless to say, the power of fully discretionary to the President;"115 the
the Court to review can be exercised only limitations being that he acts within
independently from the power of revocation permissible constitutional boundaries or in
of Congress. a manner not constituting grave abuse of
discretion.116 In fact, "the actual use to
If only to show that the intent of the which the President puts the armed forces
framers of the 1987 Constitution was to is xx x not subject to judicial review.
vest the Court and Congress with veto
powers independently from each other The extraordinary powers of suspending
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
A petition for a writ of habeas and/or declaring martial law may be
corpus, if the Members are detained, exercised only when there is actual invasion
can immediately be applied for, and or rebellion, and public safety requires it.
the Supreme Court shall also review
the factual basis Limitations of martial law and or
suspension of the privilege of the writ of
By the above pronouncement, the Court habeas corpus: (1) time limit of 60 days, (2)
willingly but unwittingly clipped its own review and possible revocation of congress,
power and surrendered the same to (3) review and possible nullification of SC
Congress as well as: abdicated from its
bounden duty to review. Worse, the Court The powers to declare martial law and to
considered' itself just on stand-by, waiting suspend the privilege of tle writ of habeas
and willing to act as a substitute in case corpus involve curtailment and suppression
Congress "defaults." It is an aberration, a of civil rights a d individual freedom. Thus,
the declaration of martial law serves as a on scope and effect. It does not in any
wami g to citizens that the Executive manner refer to a sequence, arrangement,
Department has called upon the military ~o or order which the Commander-in-Chief
assist in the maintenance of law and order, must follow. This socalled "graduation of
and while the emergen~1y remains, the powers" does not dictate or restrict the
citizens must, under pain of arrest and manner by which the President decides
punishment, not act in a manner that will which power to choose.
render it more difficult to restore order and
enforce t e law.122 As such, their exercise These extraordinary powers are conferred
requires more stringent safeguards by t e by the Constitution with the President as
Congress, and review by the Court Commander-in-Chief; it therefore necessarily
follows that the power and prerogative to
What really happens during the imposition determine whether the situation warrants a
of martial law? mere exercise of the calling out power; or
whether the situation demands suspension of
Statement before the Senate Committee on the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; or
Justice on March 13, 2006, stated that whether it calls for the declaration of
under a vali declaration of martial law, the martial law, also lies, at least initially, with
President as Commander-in-Chief may ordet the President. The power to choose, initially,
the "(a) arrests and seizures without judicial which among these extraordinary powers to
warrants; (b) ban on publi assemblies; (c) wield in a given set of conditions is a
[takeover] of news media and agencies and judgment call on the part of the President.
press censorship; and ( d) issuance of As Commander-in-Chief, his powers are
Presidential Decrees broad enough to include his prerogative to
address exigencies or threats that endanger
Worthy to note, however, that the above-
the government, and the very integrity of
cited acts that the Presidenf may perform
the State. 132
do not give him unbridled discretion to
infringe on the rights of civilians during It is thus beyond doubt that the power of
martial law. This is because martial law judicial review does not extend to calibrating
does not suspen the operation of the the President's decision pertaining to which
Constitution, neither does it supplant the extraordinary power to avail given a set of
operation o civil courts or legislative facts or conditions. To do so would be
assemblies. Moreover, the guarantees under tantamount to an incursion into the
th Bill of Rights remain in place during its exclusive domain of the Executive and an
pendency. And in such instanc where the infringement on the prerogative that solely,
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is also at least initially, lies with the President.
suspended, sue suspension applies only to
those judicially charged with rebellion or The elimination by the framers of the 1987
offense d . h. . 129 connecte wit mvas10n. Constitution of the requirement of prior
concurrence of the Congress in the initial
GRADUATION OF POWERS imposition of martial law or suspension of
the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
Indeed, the 1987 Constitution gives the
further supports the conclusion that
"President, as Commander-in-,. Chief, a
judicial review does not include the
'sequence' of 'graduated power[s]'.
calibration of the President's decision of
It must be stressed, however, that the which of his graduated powers be availed of
graduation refers only to hierarchy based in a given situation.
It cannot be overemphasized that time is other that the exercise of the powers of the
paramount in situations Commander-in-Chief under Section 18,
Article VII of the Constitution is bestowed.
In necessitating the proclamation of martial
law or suspension of the privilege I of the In any event, the President initially employed
writ of habeas corpus. It was precisely this the most benign action -the calling out
time element that prompted the power before he declared martial law and
Constitutional Commission to eliminate the suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas
requirement of concurrence of the Congress corpus.
in the initial imposition by the President of
martial law or suspension of the privilege of Proclamation No. 55 on September 4, 2016,
the writ of habeas corpus declaring a state of national emergency on
account of lawless violence in Mindanao.
Considering that the proclamation of This, in fact, is extant in the first Whereas
martial law or suspension of the privilege of Clause of Proclamation No. 216. Based on
the writ of habeas corpus is now anchored the foregoing presidential actions, it can be
on actual invasion or rebellion and when gleaned that although there is no obligation
public safety requires it, and is no longer or requirement on his part to use his
under threat or in imminent danger thereof, extraordinary powers on a graduated or
there is a necessity and urgency for the sequential basis still the President made the
President to act quickly to protect the conscious and deliberate effort to first
country.138 The Court, as Congress does, employ the most benign from among hjs
must thus accord the President the same extraordinary powers. As the initial and
leeway by not wading into the realm that is preliminary step towar ,s suppressing and
reserved exclusively by the Constitution to preventing the armed hostilities in
the Executive Department. Mindanao, the President decided to use his
calling out power first. Unfortunately, the
RECOMMENDATION OF DEFENSE situation did not improve; on the contrary,
SECRETARY it only worsened. Thus, exercising his sol~
o NO, IT IS NOT A CONDITION and exclusive prerogative, the President
BEFORE THE PRESIDENT CAN decided to impose martial law an~ suspend
PROCLAIM MARTIAL LAW the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus
on the belief that thf armed hostilities in
Even the recommendation of, or
Mindanao already amount to actual
consultation with, the Secretary of National
rebellion and publif safety requires it.
Defense, or other high-ranking military
officials, is not a condition for the President VOID FOR VAGUENESS DOCTRINE
to declare martial law. A plain reading of o NO, IT IS NOT VOID ON ITS
Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution FACE
shows that the President's power to declare
martial law is not subject to any condition Proclamation No. 216 is being facially
except for the requirements of actual challenged on the ground of "vagueness" by
invasion or rebellion and that public safety the insertion of the phrase "other rebel
requires it. Besides, it would be contrary to groups" 139 in it~ Whereas Clause and for
common sense if the decision of the lack of available guidelines specifying its
President is made dependent on the actua' operational parameters within the
recommendation of his mere alter ego. entire Mindanao region, making thtj
Rightly so, it is only on the President and no proclamation susceptible to broad
interpretation, misinterpretation, 01 to broad interpretation, misinterpretation,
confusion. and confusion, cannot be sustained.

The void-for-vagueness doctrine holds that The term "other rebel groups" in
a law is facially invalid if "men of common Proclamation No. 216 is not at all vague
intelligence must necessarily guess at its when viewed in the context of the words
meaning and differ as to its that accompany it. Verily, the text of
application."140 "[A] statute or act may be Proclamation No. 216 refers to "other rebel
said to be vague when it lacks groups" found in Proclamation No. 55,
comprehensible standards that men of which it cited by way of reference in its
common intelligence must necessarily guess Whereas clauses.
at its meaning and differ in its application.
[In such instance, the statute] is repugnant Neither could Proclamation No. 216 be
to the Constitution in two respects: ( 1) it described as vague, and thus void, on the
violates due process for failure to accord ground that it has no guidelines specifying
persons, especially the parties targeted by its actual operational parameters within the
it, fair notice of the conduct to avoid; and entire Mindanao region. Besides, operational
(2) it leaves law enforcers unbridled guidelines will serve only as mere tools for
discretion in carrying out its provisions and the implementation of the proclamation.
becomes an arbitrary flexing of the
Clearly, therefore, there is no need for the
Government muscle.
Court to determine the constitutionality of
The vagueness doctrine is an analytical tool the implementing and/or operational
developed for testing "on their faces" statutes guidelines, generql orders, arrest orders and
in free speech cases or, as they are called in other orders issued after the proclamation
American law, First Amendment cases.142 A for being, irrelevant to its review. Thus, any
facial challenge is allowed to be made to a act committed under the said orders i
vague statute and also to one which is violation of the Constitution and the laws,
overbroad because of possible ' "'chilling such as criminal acts or human rights
effect' on protected speech that comes from violations, should be resolved in a separate
statutes violating free speech. A person who proceeding. Finally, there is a risk that if the
does not know whether his speech Court wades into these areas, it would be
constitutes a crime under an overbroad or deemed a~ trespassing into the sphere that
vague law may simply restrain himself from is reserved exclusively for Congress in the
speaking in order to avoid being charged of exercise of its power to revoke.
a crime. The overbroad or vague law thus
chills him into silence."
Clearly, facial review of Proclamation No. PREVIOUS ACTIONS COMMENCED BY
216 on the grounds void for vagueness is THE PRESIDENT PURSUANT TO THE
unwarranted. Proclamation No. 216 does not SITUATION.
regulate speech, religious freedom, and o NO, IT WILL HAVE NO
other fundamental rights that may be facial EFFECTON THE PREVIOUS
challenged. 148 What it seeks to penalize is PROCLAMATION AND OR
conduct, not speech. DECISION OF PRESIDENT
The contention that the phrase "other rebel
groups" leaves Proclamation No. 216 open The Court's ruling in these cases will not, in
any way, affect the! President's declaration
of a state of national emergency on account separate proceedings instituted for that
of 1 lawless violence in Mindanao through particular purpose.
Proclamation No. 55 dated September 4,
2016, where he called upon the Armed As explained in Integrated Bar of the
Forces and the Philippine National1 Police Philippines v. Zamora, 154 the President's
(PNP) to undertake such measures to exercise of his power to call out the armed
suppress any and all forms of lawless forces to prevent or suppress lawless
violence in the Mindanao region, and to violence, invasion or rebellion may only be
prevent such lawless violence from examined by the Court as to whether such
spreading and escalating elsewhere in the power was exercised within permissible
Philippines constitutional limits or in a manner
constituting grave abuse of discretion.
In Kulayan v. Tan, 152 the Court ruled that
the President's calling out power is in a This locus standi requirement, however,
different category from the power to need not be complied with in so far as the
suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas Court's jurisdiction to review the
corpus and the power to declare martial sufficiency of the factual basis of the
law: President's declaration of martial law

Congress may revoke such But, even assuming arguendo that the Court
proclamation or suspension and the finds no sufficient basi$ for the declaration
Court may review the sufficiency of of martial law in this case, such ruling could
the factual basis thereof. However, not affect tht President's exercise of his
there is no such equivalent provision calling out power through Proclamation No.
dealing with the revocation or 55.
review of the President's action to
Neither would the nullification of
call out the armed forces. The
Proclamation No. 216 result in the
distinction places the calling out
nullification of the acts of the President
power in a different category from
done pursuant thereto. Under th~
the power to declare martial law and
"operative fact doctrine," the
the power to suspend the privilege
unconstitutional statute is recognized as an
of the writ of habeas corpus,
"operative fact" before it is declared
otherwise, the framers of the
Constitution would have simply
lumped together the three powers 'The actual existence of a statute prior to
and provided for their revocation such a determination [of constitutionality], is
and review without any qualification an operative fact and may have
consequences which cannot always be
In other words, the President may exercise
erased by a new judicial declaration.
the power to call out the Armed Forces
independently of the power to suspend the SCOPE OF THE POWER TO REVIEW
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and to o ONLY TO FACTUAL BASIS
declare martial law, although, of course, it EXISTING PRIOR TO
may also be a prelude to a possible future PROCLAMATION
exercise of the latter powers, as in this case.
Th 1987 Constitution, by providing only for
Even so, the Court's review of the President's judicial review based on th determination of
declaration of martial law and his calling the sufficiency of the factual bases, has in
out the Armed Forces necessarily entails
fact done awa with the test of arbitrariness situation as well as national security. He
as provided in Lansang. cannot be forced to divulge intelligence
reports and confidential infonnation that
Similarly, under the doctrine of may prejudice the operations and the safety
contemporaneous construction, the framers of the military.
of the 1987 Constitution are presumed to
know the prevailing jurisprudence at the Similarly, events that happened after the
time they were drafting the Constitution. issuance of the proclamation, which are
Thus, the phrase "sufficiency of factual included in the written report, cannot be
basis" in Section 18, Article VII of the considered in determining the sufficiency of
Constitution should be understood as the the factual basis of the declaration of
only test for judicial review of the. martial law and/or the suspension of the
President's power to declare martial law and privilege of the writ of habeas corpus since
suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas these happened after the President had
corpus under Section 18, Article VII of the already issued the proclamation. If at all,
Constitution. The Court does not need to they may be used only as tools, guides or
satisfy itself that the President's decision is reference in the Court's determination of
correct, rather it only needs to determine the sufficiency of factual basis, but not as
whether the President's decision had part or component of the portfolio of the
sufficient factual bases. factual basis itself.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President has In determining the sufficiency of the factual

the sole discretion to declare martial law basis of the declaration and/or the
and/or to suspend the privilege of the writ of suspension, the Court should look into the
habeas corpus, subject to the revocation of full complement or totality of the factual
Congress and the review of this Court Since basis, and not piecemeal or individually.
the exercise of these powers is a judgment Neither should the Court expect absolute
call of the President, the ' determination of correctness of the facts stated in the
this Court as to whether there is sufficient proclamation and in the written Report as
factual basis for the exercise of such, must the President could not be expected to verify
be based only on facts or information known the accuracy and veracity of all facts
by o available to the President at the time he reported to him due to the urgency of the
made the declaration or suspension which situation. To require precision in the
facts or information are found in the President's appreciation of facts would
proclamation as well as that written Report unduly burden him and therefore impede
submitted by him to Congress. These may be the process of his decision-making. Such a
based on that situation existing at the time requirement will practically necessitate the
the declaration was made or past events. As President to be on the ground to confirm the
tq how far the past events should be from correctness of the reports submitted to him
the present depends on the President within a period that only the circumstances
obtaining would be able to dictate. Such a
As to what facts must be stated in the scenario, of course, would not only place the
proclamation and the written Report is up President in peril but would also defeat the
to the President.165 As Commander-in- very purpose of the grant of emergency
Chief, he has sole discretion to determine powers upon him.
what to include and what not to include in
the proclamation and the written Report Corollary, as the President is expected to
taking into account the urgency of the decide quickly on whether there is a need to
proclaim martial law even only on the basis purpose of the uprising or movement is
of intelligence reports, it is irrelevant, for either (a) to remove from the allegiance to
purposes of the Court's review, if the Government or its laws: (i) the territory
subsequent events prove that the situation of the Philippines or any part thereof; or (ii)
had not been accurately reported to him. any body of land, naval, or other armed
forces; or (b) to deprive the Chief Executive
In sum, the Court's power to review is or Congress, wholly or partially, of any of
limited to the determination of whether the their powers and prerogatives."
President in declaring martial law and
suspending the privilege of the writ of Fortun v. President Macapagal-Arroyo,
habeas corpus had sufficient factual basis. concluded that the President needs only to
Thus, our review would be limited to an satisfy probable cause as the standard of
examination on whether the President acted proof in determining the existence of either
within the bounds set by the Constitution, invasion or rebellion for purposes of
i.e., whether the facts in his possession declaring martial law, and that probable
prior to and at the time of the declaration cause is the most reasonable, most practical
or suspension are sufficient for him to and most expedient standard by which the
declare martial law or suspend the privilege President can fully ascertain the existence or
of the writ of habeas corpus. non-existence of rebellion necessary for a
declaration of martial law or suspension of
IS THERE REBELLION the writ. This is because unlike other
o YES, THERE IS REBELLION standards of proof, which, in order to be
met, would require much from the President
Section 18, Article VII itself sets the
and therefore unduly restrain his exercise of
parameters for determining the sufficiency
emergency powers, the requirement of
of the factual basis for the declaration of
probable cause is much simpler.
martial law and/or the suspension of the
privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, At this juncture, it bears to emphasize that
"namely (1) actual invasion or rebellion, and the purpose of judicial review is not the
(2) public safety requires the exercise of determination of accuracy or veracity of the
such power."170 Without the concurrence facts upon which the President anchored
of the two conditions, the President's his declaration of martial law or suspension
declaration of martial law and/or of the privilege of the writ of habeas
suspension of the privilege of the writ of corpus; rather, only the sufficiency of the
habeas corpus must be struck down factual basis as to convince the President
that there is probable cause that rebellion
Thus, rebellion as mentioned in the
exists. It must also be reiterated that
Constitution could only refer t~ rebellion as
martial law is a matter of urgency and much
defined under Article 134 of the RPC. To
leeway and flexibility should be accorded
give it a different definition would not only
the President As such, he is not expected to
create confusion but would also give the
completely validate all the information h~
President wide latitude of discretion, which
received before declaring martial law or
may be abused -a situation that the
suspending the privilege of the writ of
constitution seeks to prevent
habeas corpus.
Thus, for rebellion to exist, the following
Petitioners concede that there is an armed
elements must be present, to wit: "(l) there
public uprising in Marawi City. 179
is a (a) public uprising and (b) taking arms
However, they insist that the armed
against the Government; and (2) the
hostilities do not constitute rebellion in the President, foremost -of their powers
absence of the element of culpable political and prerogatives. "223
purpose, i.e., the removal from the
allegiance to the Philippine Government or 4) "These activities constitute not
its laws: (i) the territory of the Philippines or simply a display of force, but a clear
any part thereof; or (ii) any body of land, attempt to establish the groups' seat
naval, or other armed forces; or (b) to of power in Marawi City for their
deprive the Chief Executive or Congress, planned establishment of a DAESH
wholly or partially, of any of their powers wilayat or province covering the
and prerogatives. entire Mindanao. "224

After the assessment by the President of 5) "The cutting of vital lines for
the aforementioned facts, he arrived at the transportation and power; the
following conclusions, as mentioned in recruitment of young Muslims to
Proclamation No. 216 and the Report: further expand their ranks and
strengthen their force; the armed
1) The Maute Group is "openly consolidation of their members
attempting to remove from the throughout Marawi City; the
allegiance to the Philippine decimation of a segment of the city
Government this part of Mindanao population who resist; and the
and deprive the Chief Executive of brazen display of DAESH flags
his powers and prerogatives to constitute a clear, pronounced, and
enforce the laws of the land and to unmistakable intent to remove
maintain public order and safety in Marawi City, and eventually the rest
Mindanao, constituting the crime of of Mindanao, from its allegiance to
rebellion."221 the Government

2) "[L]awless armed groups have 6) "There exists no doubt that

taken up arms and committed lawless armed groups are
public uprising against the duly attempting tp deprive the President
constituted government and against of his power, authority, and
the people of Mindanao, for the prerogatives withih Marawi City as a
purpose of removing Mindanao - precedent to spreading their control
starting with the City of Marawi, over the enti~e Mindanao, in an
Lanao del Sur -from its allegiance to attempt to undermine his control
the Government and its laws and over executi~~e departments,
depriving the Chief Executive of his bureaus, and offices in said area;
powers and prerogatives to enforce defeat his mandate to ensu e that all
the laws of the land and to maintain laws are faithfully executed; and
public order and safety in Mindanao, remove his supervisory powe s 226 '
to the great damage, prejudice, and over local governments." I
detriment of the people therein and
the nation as a whole."222 i i 7) "Law enforcement and other
government agencies now faqe
3) The May 23, 2017 events "put on pronounced difficulty sending their
public display the groups' clear reports to the Chief Executive due to
intention to establish an Islamic tlle city-wide power outages.
State and their capability to deprive Personnel from the BJMP have been
the duly constituted authorities -the prevente from performing their
functions. Through the attack and of any of his powers and prerogative~,
occupation of several hospitals, leading the President to believe that there
medical services in Marawi City have was probable cause that the crime of
been adverse! affected. The bridge rebellion was and is being committed and
and road blockades set up by the that public safety requires the imposition
groups effective! deprive the of martial law and suspension of the
government of its ability to deliver privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
basic services to its citizen .... Troop
reinforcements have been A review of the aforesaid facts similarly
hampered, preventing the leads the Court to conclude that the
government fro restoring peace and President, in issuing Proclamation No. 216,
order in the area. Movement by both had sufficient factual ' bases tending to show
civilians and government personnel that actual rebellion exists. The President's
to and from the city is likewise conclusion, that there was an armed public
hindered. "227 uprising, the culpable purpose of which was
the removal from the allegiance of the
8) "The taking up of arms by lawless Philippine Government a portion of its
armed groups in the area, with territory and the deprivation of the President
support being provided by foreign- from performing his powers and
based terrorists and illegal drug prerogatives, was reached after a tactical
mone , and their blatant acts of consideration of the facts. In fine, the
defiance which embolden other President satisfactorily discharged his
armed groups_ ~n Mindanao, have burden of proof.
resulted in the deterioration of
public order and safety n Marawi The allegation in the Lagman Petition that
City; they have likewise the facts stated f n Proclamation No. 216
compromised the security of the and the Report are false, inaccurate,
enti e Island ofMindanao."228 simulated, and/ r hyperbolic, does not
persuade. As mentioned, the Court is not
I 9) "Considering the network and concern d about absolute correctness,
alliance-building activities amojlg accuracy, or precision of the facts because
terrorist groups, local criminals, and to do so would unduly tie the hands of the
lawless armed men, the siege f President in responding to an urgent
Marawi City is a vital cog in attaining situation.
their long-standing goal: absolu e
control over the entirety of Moreover, the alleged false and/or
Mindanao. These circumstances inaccurate statements are just pieces and
demand swi and decisive action to parcels of the Report; along with these
ensure the safety and security of the alleged false data is arsenal of other
Filipino people and preserve our independent facts showing that more likely
national integrity."229 than not, actual rebellion exists, and public
safety requires the declaration of martial
Thus, the President deduced from the facts law r suspension of the privilege of the writ
available to him that there was an armed of habeas corpus.
public uprising, the culpable purpose of
which was to remove from the allegiance to Invasion or rebellion alone may justify
the Philippine Government a portion of its resort to the calling out power but
territory and to deprive the Chief Executive definitely not the declaration of martial law
or suspension of the privilege of the writ of
habeas corpus. For a declaration of martial firearms or ammunitions, ground
law or suspension of the privilege of the commands and operations, names of
writ of habeas corpus to be valid, there suspects and sympathizers, etc. , In fact,
must be a concurrence of actual rebellion or during the closed door session held by the
invasion and the public safety requirement. Court, some information came to light,
In his Report, the President noted that the although not mentioned in the Proclamation
acts of violence perpetrated by the ASG and or Report. But then again, the discretion
the Maute Group were directed not only whether to include the same in the
against government forces or Proclamation or Report is the judgment call
establishments but likewise against civilians of the President. In fact, petitioners concede
and their properties.242 In addition and in to this. During the oral argument, petitioner
relation to the armed hostilities, bomb Lagman admitted that "the assertion of
threats were issued;243 road blockades and facts [in the Proclamation and Report] is the
checkpoints were set up;244 schools and call of the President
churches were burned;245 civilian hostages
were taken and killed;246 non-Muslims or In fine, not only does the President have a
Christians were targeted;247 young male wide array of information before him, he
Muslims were forced to join their group;248 also has the right, prerogative, and the
medical services and delivery of basic means to access vital, relevant, and
services were hampered;249 reinforcements confidential data, concomitant with his
of government troops and civilian positions Commander-in-Chief of the
movement were hindered;250 and the Armed Forces.
security of the entire Mindanao Island was
Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution
states that "[i]n case of invasion or
Based on the foregoing, we hold that the rebellion, when the public safety requires it,
parameters for the declaration of martial [the President] may x x x suspend the
law and suspension of the privilege of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus or place
writ f habeas corpus have been properly and the Philippines or any part thereof under
fully complied with. Proclamation No. 216 martial law." Clearly, the Constitution
has sufficient factual basis there being grants to the President the discretion to
probable cause to believe that rebellion determine the territorial coverage of martial
exists and that public safety requires the law and the suspension of the privilege of
martial law declaration and the suspension the writ of habeas corpus. He may put the
of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus entire Philippines or only a part thereof
under martial law.
To be sure, the facts mentioned in the
Proclamation and the Report are far from The significance of martial law should not
being exhaustive or all-encompassing. At be undermined by unjustified fears and
this juncture, it may not be amiss to state past experience. After all, martial law is
that as Commander-in-Chief, the President critical and crucial to the promotion of
has possession of documents and public safety, the preservation of the
information classified as "confidential", the nation's sovereignty and ultimately, the
contents of which cannot be included in the survival of our country. It is vital for the
Proclamation or Report for reasons of protection of the country not only against
national security. These documents may internal enemies but also against those
contain information detailing the position enemies~ lurking from beyond our shores
of government troops and rebels, stock of
Conscious of those fears ~d apprehensions, The Court can only act within the confines of
the Constitution placed several safeguards its power. For the Court to overreach is to
which effectively watered down the power infringe upon another's territory. Clearly,
to declare martial law. The 1987 the power to determine the scope of
Constitution "[clipped] the powers of [the] territorial application belongs to the
Commander-in-Chief because of [the] President. "The Court cannot indulge in
experience with the previous regime."261 judicial legislation without violating the
Not only were the grounds limited to actual principle of separation of powers, and,
invasion r, r rebellion, but its duration was hence, undermining the foundation of our
likewise fixed at 60 days, unless soon r republican system
revoked, nullified, or extended; at the same
time, it is subject to the veto powers of the To reiterate, the Court is not equipped with
Court and Congress. the competence and logistical machinery to
determine the strategical value of other
Public safety, which is another component places in the military's efforts to quell the
element for the declaration of martial law, rebellion and restore peace. It would be
"involves the prevention of and protection engaging in an act of adventurism if it dares
from events that could endanger the safety to embark on a mission of deciphering the
of the general public from significant territorial metes and bounds of martial law.
danger, injury/harm, or damage, such as
crimes or disasters."268 Public safety is an Thus, there is reasonable basis to believe
abstract term; it does not take any physical that Marawi is only the staging point of the
form. Plainly, its range, extent or scope rebellion, both for symbolic and strategic
could not be physically measured by metes reasons. , Marawi may not be the target but
and bounds. the whole of Mindanao. As mentioned in the
Report, "[l]awless armed groups have
Perhaps another reason why the territorial historically used provinces adjoining Marawi
scope of martial law should not necessarily City as escape routes, supply lines, and
be limited to the particular vicinity where backdoor passages;"288 there is also the
the armed public uprising actually plan to establish a wilayat in Mindanao by
transpired, is because of the unique staging the siege of Marawi. The report that
characteristic of rebellion as a crime. "The prior to May 23, 2017, Abdullah Maute had
crime of rebellion consists of many acts. It already dispatched some of his men to
is a vast movement of men and a complex various places in Mindanao, such as Marawi,
net of intrigues and plots. Acts committed Iligan, and Cagayan de Oro for bombing
in furtherance of rebellion[,] though crimes operations, carnapping, and the murder of
in themselves. military and police personnel,289 must also
be considered. Indeed, there is some
Moreover, the President's duty to maintain semblance of truth to the contention that
peace and public safety is not limited only Marawi is only the start, and Mindanao the
to the place where there is actual rebellion; end.
it extends ~o other areas where the present
hostilities are in danger of spilling over. It Moreover, considering the widespread
'is not intended merely to prevent the atrocities in Mindanao and tbe linkages
escape of lawless elements from Mara i City, established among rebel groups, the armed
but also to avoid enemy reinforcements and uprising that was initially staged in Marawi
to cut their supply lines cannot be justified as confined only to
Marmfi. The Court therefore will not simply
disregard the events that happened during proclaiming martial ' law or suspending the
the Davao City bombing, the Mamasapano privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
massacre, the Zamboanga City siege, and
the countless bombings in Cotabato, Sultan Besides, there is nothing in Art. 134 of the
Kudarat, Sul, and Basilan, among RPC and RA 9372 whiJh states that rebellion
others.298 The Court cannot simply take the and terrorism are mutuallty exclusive of
battle of Marawi in isolation. As a crime each other ?r that they cannot co-exist
without predetermined bounds, the President together. RA 93 72 does not expressly or
has reasonable basis to believe that the impliedly repeal Art. 134 of the RPC. And
declaration of martial law, as well as the while rebellion is one of the predicate crimes
suspension of the privilege of the writ of of terrorism, one cannot absorb the other as
habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao, is they have differett elements. 300
most necessary, effective, and called for by
Verily, the Court upholds the validity of
the circumstances.
the declaration of martial law and
In determining what crime was committed, suspension of the privilege of the writ of
we have to look into the main objective of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao
the malefactors. If it is political, such as for region.
the purpose of severing the allegiance of
Mindanao to the Philippine Government to
establish a wilayat therein, the crime is
rebellion. If, on the other hand, the primary
objective is to sow and create a condition of
widespread and extraordinary fear and
panic among the populace in order to
coerce the government to give in to an
unlawful demand, the crime is terrorism.
Here, we have already explained and ruled
that the President did not err in believing
that what is going on in Marawi City is one
contemplated under the crime of rebellion.

In any case, even assuming that the

insurgency in Marawi City can also be
characterized as terrorism, the same will not
in any manner affect Proclamation No. 216.
Section 2 of Republic Act (RA) No. 9372,
otherwise known as the Human Security Act
of 2007 expressly provides that "[n]othing in
this Act shall be interpreted as a
curtailment, restriction or diminution of
constitutionally recognized powers of the
executive branch of the government." Thus,
as long as the President complies with all the
requirements of Section 18, Article VII, the
existence of terrorism cannot prevent him
from exercising his extraordinary power of