Marquez sees no need for Congress joint session on Mindanao martial law

Ina Reformina, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 19 2017 09:11 PM | Updated as of Jun 19 2017 10:35 PM

MANILA - One of twelve aspirants to a post in the Supreme Court (SC), with the impending vacancy following the mandatory retirement on July 6 of Associate Justice Bienvenido Reyes, sees no need for Congress to convene in joint session to review President Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216 placing the entire Mindanao under martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

SC Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez told members of the Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) during his public interview on Monday that there is no mandatory requirement under the 1987 Constitution for a joint session of Congress to confirm a declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ.

"Congress only needs to convene if they intend to revoke martial law," Marquez said.

Marquez was referring to Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution which provides that “[t]he Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the president.”

Two petitions are pending with the high court urging the magistrates to order the House of Representatives and Senate to jointly convene, one filed by a group of petitioners led by detained Senator Leila de Lima, and the second by former Senator Wigberto Tañada, et al.

This, despite both chambers expressing, through separate resolutions, support for Proclamation No. 216 and rejecting calls for a joint session.

Petitioners assert "the power to declare martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, while vested in the President, is shared with Congress; in order for Congress to exercise its power, it necessarily must convene jointly.”

Speaking to reporters after his interview, Marquez said he hoped the JBC would not propound questions pertaining to cases pending before the SC, but stressed council members "can ask any question they want.”

“I tried to answer it as best I could without really giving my views… mahirap, kasi ang SC is a collegial body, you have 15 justices, you have 15 different views,” Marquez explained.

Marquez has served in the judiciary for 25 years now, starting as a law clerk for more than a decade, and later served as chief-of-staff of Chief Justice Reynato Puno, Public Information Office chief and SC spokesman, and now in his post as the longest-serving SC Court Administrator — a wealth of experience enough to prepare him for the magistrate post, he stressed.

“That’s precisely why I decided to apply and accept the nomination of our judges and court personnel, been with the SC more than 25 yrs and I’ve occupied various positions,” he said, even as he pointed out that one of his greatest strengths is having taken part in the reform initiatives of the high court.

The other applicants to the SC post are CA Presiding Justice Andres Reyes Jr., and Associate Justices Rosmari Carandang, Jose Reyes, Japar Dimaampao, Apolinario Bruselas, Amy Lazaro-Javier, Ramon Paul Hernando, Stephen Cruz, and Ramon Bato Jr.; Centro Escolar University law school vice dean Rita Linda Ventura Jimeno; and Davao City Regional Trial Court Judge Rowena Apao-Adlawan.