Category Archives: Constitutional Law

SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

RE: SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS

DEFINE A “WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS”?

 ANS.  A writ of habeas corpus is defined as a writ directed to the person detaining another, commanding him to produce the body of the prisoner at a designated time and place, with the day and cause of his caption and detention, to do, submit to, and receive whatever the court of judge awarding the writ shall consider in that behalf.

Habeas corpus when translated means “produce the body”. If a writ of habeas corpus is issued by the court, the court is basically ordering a person who has detained another to produce the body of the latter at a designated time and place, and to show sufficient cause for holding in custody the individual so detained.

WHAT IS THE “PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS?”

ANS.  The privilege of the writ is the further order from the court to release an individual if it finds his detention without legal cause or authority.

WHAT THEN MAY BE SUSPENDED: THE WRIT OR THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT?

ANS. It is the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus (not the writ itself)

WHO MAY SUSPEND THE PRIVILEGE?

ANS. The President

WHEN MAY THE PRIVILEGE BE SUSPENDED? Limitation #1

ANS. “…in cases of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it.”

HOW LONG MAY IT BE SUSPENDED? Limitation #2

ANS. It shall not exceed the period of 60 days.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT IS SUSPENDED?

ANS. When the privilege of the writ is suspended, the person under detention by the government may not obtain his liberty by its use.

                The writ itself may still be issued by the court and the person detained must still be produced in court. However, the official or person detaining him may ask the court not to continue the proceeding any further as the privilege of the writ as to that particular person seeking release has been suspended

                Once the officer making the return shows to the court that the person detained is being detained for an office covered by the suspension, the court may not enquire any further.

WHEN THE PRESIDENT DECLARES A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW, IS THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED?

ANS. No, not automatically.

TO WHOM DOES THE SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE APPLY? Limitation #3

ANS. “The suspension of the privilege of the writ shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.”

                “…any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.”

DOES THE SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE ALSO SUSPEND THE RIGHT TO BAIL?

ANS. NO. ART III, SEC. 13

REFERENCE:

  1. The 1987 Constitution
  2. Revised Rules of Court on Habeas Corous, Rule 102
  3. Bernas, J. (2011). The 1987 Philippine Consitution: A Comprehensive Reviewer
  4. Bernas J. (2009). The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary
  5. De Leon, H. (2008). Textbook on the Philippine Constitution
  6. Nachura, AE. (2009). Outline/Reviewer in Political Law

 

Cases:

  1. Gudani vs. Senga G.R. No. 170265, April 15, 2006
  2. Gumawa vs. Espino, 96 SCRA 403,403-7, February 29, 1980
  3. Lansang vs. Garcia 42 SCRA 448
  4. Lacson vs. Perez, G.R. No. 147780, May 10, 2001
  5. IBP vs. Zamora, G.R. No. 141284, August 15, 2000
  6. Padilla vs. Ponce Enrile, L-61388, April 20, 1983
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FAQ ON MARTIAL LAW

WHAT IS “MARTIAL LAW”?

BRIEFLY: Martial law is founded on necessity and is essentially police power exercised by the executive with the aid of the military, the latter being called upon to assist in the maintenance of peace and order and the enforcement of legal norms. The purpose thereof being the preservation of the public safety and good order in times when the domination of lawless elements cannot be stopped by civil authorities.

IN LENGTH: Tracing the history of the Philippine Constitution will show that it is of American origin, thus, most law books provide for definition derived from American cases and material references.

Westel Willoughby, for one, had the following to say:

                “In the most comprehensive sense of the term, Martial Law includes all law that has reference to, or is administered by the military forces of the State. Thus it includes (1) Military Law Proper, that is, the body of administrative laws created by Congress for the government of the army and navy as an organized force; (2) the principles governing the conduct of military forces in time of war, and in the government of occupied territory, and,…

 (3) Martial Law in sensu strictiore, or that law which has application when the military arm does not supersede civil authority but is called upon to aid it in the execution of its civil functions.”

                 The Martial Law in our Constitution refers to the third definition.

                Martial Law authorizes “the military to act vigorously for the maintenance of an orderly civil government.” – Justice Black, Duncan v. Kahanmoku, 327 U.S”. 304, 323 (1946).

                Martial Law is “the exercise of the power which resides in the executive branch of the government to preserve order and insure the public safety in times of emergency, when other branches of the government are unable to function, or their functioning would itself threaten the public safety… It is the law of necessity to be prescribed and administered by the executive power. Its object, the preservation of the public safety and good order, defines the scope, which will vary with the circumstances and necessities of the case. The exercise of the power may not extend beyond what is required by the exigency which calls it forth.” –Justice Stone, Id. at 335-6

 WHO CAN DECLARE “MARTIAL LAW?

ANS. The President as commander-in-chief pursuant to Art VII, Sec 18 of the 1987 Constitution.

WHAT IS THE “COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF” CLAUSE?

ANS. The Constitution declares the President, a civilian, as the Commander-in –Chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (the power covers the Philippine National Police (PNP).

The reason behind this provision is to ensure the supremacy of the civil authorities over the military forces of the government.

The President has control and direction of the conduct of war and, when necessary, may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion.  However, it is only in this sense that the president may be referred to as a military officer. The President does not enlist in, nor is he inducted or drafted into forces; “he is not subject to court martial or other military discipline.”Swartz, The Powers of the President, p.215 (1963)

The net effect of Article II, Section 3, when read with Article VII, Section 18, is that a civilian President holds supreme military authority and is the ceremonial, legal, and administrative head of the armed forces. The Constitution does not require that the President must be possessed of military training and talents, but as Commander-in-Chief, he has the power to direct military operations and to determine military strategy. Normally, he would be expected to delegate the actual command of the armed forces to military experts; but the ultimate power is his. “As Commander-in-chief, he is authorized to direct the movements of the naval and military forces placed by law at his command, and to employ them in the manner he may deem most effectual to harass and conquer and subdue the enemy.” Fleming v. Page, 9 How 603, 615 U.S. (1850)

 WHAT POWER DOES THE PRESIDENT HAVE OVER THE MILITARY?

ANS. Since the President is commander-in-chief of the Armed forces, she can demand obedience from military officers. Military officers who disobey or ignore her command can be subjected to court martial proceeding. Thus, for instance, the President as Commander-in-Chief may prevent a member of the armed forces from testifying before a legislative inquiry, a military officer who disobeys the President’s directive may be made to answer before a court martial. (see Gudani v. Senga, G.R. No. 170165, April 15, 2006).

 IN WHAT INSTANCES CAN THE PRESIDENT DECLARE MARTIAL LAW? (GROUNDS)

Ans. Martial Law depends on two factual bases: (1) the existence of invasion or rebellion, and (2) the requirements of public safety.  (Art. VII, Sec 18 of the 1987 Constitution)

WHAT ARE THE LIMITATIONS/RESTRICTIONS?

  1. Grounds: There must be (actual) invasion or rebellion and public safety requires the proclamation or suspension;
  1. Duration: shall not exceed 60 days, following which it shall be lifted, unless extended by Congress 
  1. Duty of President to report action to Congress: within 48 hours, personally or in writing
  1. Congress may revoke [or extend on request of the President] the effectivity of the proclamation by
  • a majority vote
  • voting jointly
  • If not in session, Congress shall convene within 24 hours following such proclamation or suspension, convene in accordance with its rules without need of a call
  1. The Supreme Court may review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ or the extension thereof
  • in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen
  • must promulgate its decision within thirty (30) days from its filing

It is therefore settled that the imposition of martial law or the suspension of the privilege is now a judicial question, not a political one. Note however that this judicial review is only for the Court to look into the sufficiency of the factual basis for the exercise of the power. In Lacson vs. Perez, the Supreme Court said that the President has discretionary authority to declare a “state of rebellion”.

WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW?

 ANS.           The definition of the extent of martial law powers is made by way of denials, stating what are not the effects of a state of martial law. Thus:

  1. It does not suspend the operation of the Constitution.

-Therefore, it does not suppress the powers of the various branches of the government.

  1. It does not supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies

Meaning, the ordinary legislation continues to belong to the legislative bodies even during martial law.  It adopts the “open court rule” in Duncan v. Kahanamoku 327 U.S. 304, 324 (1946)which provides that civil courts cannot be supplanted by military courts. 

  1. It does not authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function

-When martial law is declared, civil authorities are not superseded by military authorities. Civil laws are likewise not suspended. 

  1. It does not automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus

-the privilege continues to be available to persons under detention until suspended by the President. (Continue reading or refer to other posts for further discussion the matter)

-it affects only those “persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.”

 RE: SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS 

DEFINE A “WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS”?

ANS.  A writ of habeas corpus is defined as a writ directed to the person detaining another, commanding him to produce the body of the prisoner at a designated time and place, with the day and cause of his caption and detention, to do, submit to, and receive whatever the court of judge awarding the writ shall consider in that behalf.

Habeas corpus when translated means “produce the body”. If a writ of habeas corpus is issued by the court, the court is basically ordering a person who has detained another to produce the body of the latter at a designated time and place, and to show sufficient cause for holding in custody the individual so detained.

WHAT IS THE “PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT OF HABEAS CORPUS?”

ANS.  The privilege of the writ is the further order from the court to release an individual if it finds his detention without legal cause or authority.

WHAT THEN MAY BE SUSPENDED: THE WRIT OR THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT?

ANS. It is the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus (not the writ itself)

WHO MAY SUSPEND THE PRIVILEGE?

ANS. The President

WHEN MAY THE PRIVILEGE BE SUSPENDED? Limitation #1

ANS. “…in cases of invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it.”

HOW LONG MAY IT BE SUSPENDED? Limitation #2

ANS. It shall not exceed the period of 60 days.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT IS SUSPENDED?

ANS. When the privilege of the writ is suspended, the person under detention by the government may not obtain his liberty by its use.

                The writ itself may still be issued by the court and the person detained must still be produced in court. However, the official or person detaining him may ask the court not to continue the proceeding any further as the privilege of the writ as to that particular person seeking release has been suspended

                Once the officer making the return shows to the court that the person detained is being detained for an office covered by the suspension, the court may not enquire any further.

 WHEN THE PRESIDENT DECLARES A STATE OF MARTIAL LAW, IS THE PRIVILEGE OF THE WRIT AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED?

ANS. No, not automatically.

TO WHOM DOES THE SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE APPLY? Limitation #3

ANS. “The suspension of the privilege of the writ shall apply only to persons judicially charged for rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.”

                “…any person thus arrested or detained shall be judicially charged within three days, otherwise he shall be released.”

DOES THE SUSPENSION OF THE PRIVILEGE ALSO SUSPEND THE RIGHT TO BAIL?

ANS. NO. ART III, SEC. 13

HOW DIFFERENT IS THE MARTIAL LAW UNDER THE MARCOS REGIME FROM THAT WHICH IS CONTEMPLATED UNDER THE PRESENT CONSTITUTION?

                 In the case of Gumawa vs. Espino, 96 SCRA 403, 403-7 (February 29, 1980), the Marcos Supreme court made the following conclusions:

  1. That the proclamation of martial law automatically suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus;
  1. That the President of the Philippines, “as Commander-in-Chief and as enforcer or administrator of martial law… can promulgate proclamations, orders, and decrees during the period of martial law essential to the security and preservation of the Republic, to the defense of the political and social liberties of the people, and to the institution of reforms to prevent the resurgence of rebellion or insurrection or secession of the threat thereof as well as to meet the impact of a world recession, inflation, or economic crisis which presently threatens all nations including highly developed countries…”
  1. That the President of the Philippines, as legislator during the period of martial law, can legally create military commissions or courts martial to try not only members of the armed forces but also civilian offenders for specified offenses.

 

The new Constitution, however, rejects the above Marcos Court pronouncements and now says categorically: “A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies, nor authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.”

REFERENCE:

  1. The 1987 Constitution
  2. Revised Rules of Court on Habeas Corous, Rule 102
  3. Bernas, J. (2011). The 1987 Philippine Consitution: A Comprehensive Reviewer
  4. Bernas J. (2009). The 1987 Constitution of the Republic of the Philippines: A Commentary
  5. De Leon, H. (2008). Textbook on the Philippine Constitution
  6. Nachura, AE. (2009). Outline/Reviewer in Political Law

Cases:

  1. Gudani vs. Senga G.R. No. 170265, April 15, 2006
  2. Gumawa vs. Espino, 96 SCRA 403,403-7, February 29, 1980
  3. Lansang vs. Garcia 42 SCRA 448
  4. Lacson vs. Perez, G.R. No. 147780, May 10, 2001
  5. IBP vs. Zamora, G.R. No. 141284, August 15, 2000
  6. Padilla vs. Ponce Enrile, L-61388, April 20, 1983

 

CASE DIGEST: LACSON VS. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY

 301 SCRA 298; G.R. NO. 12809620 JAN 1999

LACSON VS. EXECUTIVE SECRETARY


Facts: 

Eleven persons believed to be members of the Kuratong Baleleng gang, an organized crime syndicate involved in bank robberies, were slain by elements of the Anti-Bank Robbery andIntelligence Task Group (ABRITG). Among those included in the ABRITG were petitioners and petitioner-intervenors.

Acting on a media expose of SPO2 Eduardo delos Reyes, a member of the Criminal Investigation Command, that what actually transpired was a summary execution and not a shoot-out between the Kuratong Baleleng gang members and the ABRITG, Ombudsman Aniano Desiertoformed a panel of investigators to investigate the said incident. Said panel found the incident as a legitimate police operation. However, a review board modified the panel’s finding and recommended the indictment for multiple murder against twenty-six respondents including herein petitioner, charged as principal, and herein petitioner-intervenors, charged as accessories. After a reinvestigation, the Ombudsman filed amended informations before the Sandiganbayan, where petitioner was charged only as an accessory.

The accused filed separate motions questioning the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan, asserting that under the amended informations, the cases fall within the jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court pursuant to Section 2 of R.A. 7975. They contend that the said law limited the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan to cases where one or ore of the “principal accused” are government officals with Salary Grade 27 or higher, or PNP officials with rank of Chief Superintendent or higher. Thus, they did not qualify under said requisites. However, pending resolution of their motions, R.A. 8249 was approved amending the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan by deleting the word “principal” from the phrase “principal accused” in Section 2 of R.A. 7975.

Petitioner questions the constitutionality of Section 4 of R.A. 8249, including Section 7 which provides that the said law shall apply to all cases pending in any court over which trial has not begun as of the approval hereof.

Issues: 

(1) Whether or not Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate the petitioners’ right to due process and the equal protection clause of the Constitution as the provisions seemed to have been introduced for the Sandiganbayan to continue to acquire jurisdiction over the Kuratong Baleleng case.

(2) Whether or not said statute may be considered as an ex-post facto statute.

(3) Whether or not the multiple murder of the alleged members of the Kuratong Baleleng was committed in relation to the office of the accused PNP officers which is essential to the determination whether the case falls within the Sandiganbayan’s or Regional Trial Court’s jurisdiction.

RULING:

1.) RIGHTS NOT VIOLATED.

Petitioner and intervenors’ contention that Sections 4 and 7 of R.A. 8249 violate their right to equal protection of the law is too shallow to deserve merit. No concrete evidence and convincing argument were presented to warrant such a declaration. Every classification made by the law is presumed reasonable and the party who challenges the law must present proof of arbitrariness. The classification is reasonable and not arbitrary when the following concur: (1) it must rest on substantial distinction; (2) it must be germane to the purpose of the law; (3) must not be limited to existing conditions only, and (4) must apply equally to all members of the same class; all of which are present in this case.

Paragraph a of Section 4 provides that it shall apply “to all cases involving” certain public officials and under the transitory provision in Section 7, to “all cases pending in any court.” Contrary to petitioner and intervenors’ argument, the law is not particularly directed only to the Kuratong Baleleng cases. The transitory provision does not only cover cases which are in the Sandiganbayan but also in “any court.”

2.) NOT EX POST FACTO LAW.

There is nothing ex post facto in R.A. 8249. Ex post facto law, generally, provides retroactive effect of penal laws. R.A. 8249 is not apenal law. It is a substantive law on jurisdiction which is not penal in character. Penal laws are those acts of the Legislature which prohibit certain acts and establish penalties for their violations or those that define crimes and provide for their punishment. R.A. 7975, as regards the Sandiganbayan’s jurisdiction, its mode of appeal and other procedural matters, has been declared by the Court as not a penal law, but clearly a procedural statute, one which prescribes rules of procedure by which courts applying laws of all kinds can properly administer justice. Not being a penal law, the retroactive application of R.A. 8249 cannot be challenged as unconstitutional.

3.) RTC HAS JURISDICTION.

In People vs. Montejo, it was held that an offense is said to have been committed in relation to the office if it is intimately connected with the office of the offender and perpetrated while he was in the performance of his official functions. Such intimate relation must be alleged in the information which is essential in determining the jurisdiction of the Sandiganbayan. However, upon examination of the amended information, there was no specific allegation of facts that the shooting of the victim by the said principal accused was intimately related to the discharge of their official duties as police officers. Likewise, the amended information does not indicate that the said accused arrested and investigated the victim and then killed the latter while in their custody. The stringent requirement that the charge set forth with such particularity as will reasonably indicate the exact offense which the accused is alleged to have committed in relation to his office was not established.

Consequently, for failure to show in the amended informations that the charge of murder was intimately connected with the discharge of official functions of the accused PNP officers, the offense charged in the subject criminal cases is plain murder and, therefore, within the exclusive original jurisdiction of the Regional Trial Court and not the Sandiganbayan.


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CASE DIGEST: NPC VS. ONG CO

G.R. No. 166973

National Power Corporation vs. Benjamin Ong Co

February 10, 2009

Facts:

Petitioner expropriated respondent’s property for its Lahar Project, a project for public use.

Petitioner established its claim on RA 6395, allowing it to exercise the right to eminent domain.

Complaint was filed at the RTC on June 27, 2001. On 25 March 2002, petitioner obtained a writ of possession and on 15 April 2002 it took possession of the property.

RTC ordered the compensation of the full market value of the land valued at P1,179,000.00, with interest at 6% per annum beginning 15 April 2002, the date of actual taking, until full payment. RA 8974 sets forth the payment of land’s full market value as distinguished to RA 6395 which entitles the land owner to only 10% of market value.

Petitioner argues that compensation should only be an easement fee and not the total value and that computation of compensation should be determined as of the date of the filing of the complaint (Rule 67).

Issues:

 Whether or not compensation will be governed by provisions on RA 6395 or RA 8974. Who will determine?

 Whether or not value of the property should be reckoned as of the filing of the complaint or actual taking of the land.

 Held:

 Court held that with regard to compensation, provisions on RA 8974 should govern. Rules and Regulations of R.A. No. 8974 explicitly include power generation, transmission and distribution projects among the national government projects covered by the law. R.A. No. 8974 should govern the expropriation of respondent’s property since the Lahar Project is a national government project.

 The Court also held that the function for determining just compensation remains judicial in character. It held that the courts have the power to determine cases relative to the violations on the guarantees provided by the Bill of Rights.

 As to the amount to be given to respondent as compensation, the court agreed with petitioner that compensation should be computed as of the filing of complaint (2001) win compliance with Rule 67.


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CASE DIGEST: PEOPLE VS. TIBAGONG

Stephen Tibagong vs. People of the Philippines

G.R. No 182178

August 15, 2011

Facts:

Petitioner was found guilty by the lower courts for the violation of Section 11 or RA 9165.

Facts state that arresting officers, PO3 Faelogo and PO3 Paquera, received information from a caller, informing them of an illegal drug trade. The two proceeded to the reported place where they found petitioner, flicking a plastic allegedly containing shabu. The police officers arrested petitioner and seized the said plastic as well as the lighter found in the petitioner’s possession.

Petitioner denied ownership. He further claimed that he wasn’t doing anything illegal and so the arrest done was a violation of his rights and that the article seized should be inadmissible since it is the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’.

Issue:

Whether or not petitioner was right in averring that the evidence was inadmissible, it being the ‘fruit of the poisonous tree’.

HELD:

The court held that the petitioner’s failure to raise the issue on the validity of his arrest before arraignment and his active participation in the proceedings in the lower court estopped him from assailing the same on appeal. He was deemed to have waived his right.

The admissibility of the articles as evidence relied on whether the search made was lawful.

Section 5, Rule 113 of the Rules on Criminal Procedures provides for the only occasions permitting a warrantless arrest: (a)     When, in his presence, the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense; (b)     When an offense has just been committed and he has probable cause to believe based on personal knowledge of facts or circumstances that the person to be arrested has committed it; and (c)     When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgment or temporarily confined while his case is pending, or has escaped while being transferred from one confinement to another.

The following occasions also permit a warrantless search: 1. Warrantless search incidental to a lawful arrest;

  1. Search of evidence in “plain view;”
  2. Search of a moving vehicle;
  3. Consented warrantless search;
  4. Customs search;
  5. Stop and Frisk; and
  6. Exigent and emergency circumstances.

The Court held that sufficient evidence supported  the warrantless arrest of petitioner effected under Section 5 (a), or the arrest of a suspect in flagrante delicto.

The police officers witnessed petitioner flicking a transparent plastic sachet containing white crystalline substance in plain view. Arousing their suspicion that the sachet contains shabu, the arresting officers immediately approached petitioner, introduced themselves as police officers and effected the arrest.  After laboratory examination, the white crystalline substance placed inside the plastic sachet was found positive for methamphetamine hydrochloride or shabu, a regulated drug.

The arrest having been lawful, the item seized was likewise lawful. Not to mention, the item’s veracity was well established.

The Court affirmed the lower courts decision and found accused guilty beyond reasonable doubt.