SC dismisses petitions to compel congress to convene in a joint session for martial law deliberations
UNTV News • July 25, 2017 • 2567
MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court has denied the request to compel the Senate and the House to convene in joint session and look into the basis of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
All 15 justices voted to dismiss separate petitions filed by the groups of Sen. Leila de Lima and former Senator Wigberto “Bobby” Tañada.
The court said Congress is only mandated to hold joint session if it intends to revoke or extends the proclamation of martial law.
“The court, voting unanimously but with two concurring only in the result, dismissed the petitions on the ground that congress did not gravely abuse its discretion in not convening jointly upon the President’s issuance of Proclamation 216 Series of 2017 on the reason that Article 7 Section 18 imposes no such duty on congress to convene,” SC Spokesperson Atty. Theodore Te said.
Justices Marvic Leonen and Alfredo Benjamin Caguioa conclude the petition has become moot and academic.
The 60-day period of the original declaration has already expired last July 22.
The Congress, during its joint session last Saturday, has approved the extension of martial law in Mindanao until December 31.
Lawyer for the petitioners and former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay said the decision of the court is unfortunate.
He added that it was clear the joint session is needed more for the president’s initial declaration than for its extension. – Roderic Mendoza | UNTV News and Rescue
MANILA, Philippines – Supreme Court Senior Associate Justices Antonio Carpio and Marvic Leonen have declined their respective nominations for the chief justice post, the Supreme Court (SC) said on Tuesday.
The SC Public Information Office (PIO) confirmed this on its official Twitter account.
“Senior Associate Justice Antonio T. Carpio and Associate Justice Marvic MVF Leonen have declined their respective nominations as Chief Justice,” it said.
The SC said Chief Justice Lucas Bersamin is set to retire on October 18.
In a message to reporters, Carpio said he declined his nomination as he will also retire in October when he reaches the compulsory retirement age of 70.
Carpio has been serving the judiciary for 18 years.
Leonen on Monday said he also rejected his nomination to the SC top post but did not cite his reasons.
“There is no requirement to state our reasons for declining the nomination. For now, in my considered judgement, my decision is the right thing to do. I will be able to do what I do best for our people in my current position at this time,” he said in a statement.
He, however, gave assurance that he would be supportive of the next chief of the high court.
“As always, I am committed to giving my support to whoever is constitutionally appointed as the next chief justice,” he said.
Leonen, 56, is one of the most senior SC justices who are qualified for automatic nomination for the position.
Aside from Carpio and Leonen, other magistrates who are automatically nominated for the post are Associate Justice Diosdado Peralta, Associate Justices Estella Perlas-Bernabe and Benjamin Caguioa.
The Judicial and Bar Council (JBC) has set August 20 for the deadline for applications and acceptance of nomination for the chief justice post.
Senator Leila de Lima is grateful for the support of five United States (US) senators who called on the Philippine government for her release.
“I am both humbled and thankful for their concerns not just for my plight but for the protection of human rights, democracy, rule of law and political freedom in the Philippines where the culture of fear and impunity reign,” she said in a statement.
In a resolution, US Senators Marco Rubio, Edward Markey, Richard Durbin, Marsha Blackburn, and Chris Coon condemned the arrests of human rights defenders and political leaders under the current administration.
They also considered De Lima as a prisoner of conscience saying she was imprisoned for her political beliefs.
The senators also called on the government to drop the charges against Rappler chief executive officer, Maria Ressa to ensure freedom of the press.
However, for Department of Justice (DOJ) Secretary Menardo Guevarra, the senators were given false information because both De Lima and Ressa were charged for violating Philippine laws.
“These five US senators have obviously been fed with wrong information. Sen De Lima and Maria Resa were charged with violation of Philippine laws, were given ample opportunity to present controverting evidence, and were found to be probably guilty of the crimes charged. They are now undergoing a fair trial in a court of law,” he said in a text message.
He also said that human rights and freedom of the press have nothing to do with their case because “they continue to relentlessly attack and badmouth the government to this very day.”
“The Philippine press is probably the freest in this part of the world,” he added.
Meanwhile, Malacañang told the senators to “mind your own business” and focus on the problems of their own country.
“I issued a statement on that. It’s an outrageous intrusion to our sovereignty. They have no business dictating on us on what are we going to do with suspected criminals in this country,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said.
De Lima said that instead of considering it as an intrusion, critics should understand that these US senators are only fighting for justice, human rights, and democracy.
“Instead of bewailing their alleged ‘meddling’, those who negatively reacted to the US Senators’ move should recognize that these foreign entities are simply advancing universal causes of justice, human rights and democracy,” she said.
De Lima is currently facing four charges in violation of Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002 due to her alleged involvement in illegal drug trade.
Ressa, on the other hand, is currently facing libel charges and violation of the Anti-dummy Law.—Aileen Cerrudo (with reports from Mai Bermudez)
Despite objections from the camp of Senator Leila de Lima, the Muntinlupa Regional Trial Court Branch 205, presided by Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz, pushed through with arraignment of the senator on charges of conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
She is accused of conspiring with high-profile inmate, Peter Co who supposedly gave the former Justice Secretary P3-M and a vehicle in exchange for allowing illegal drugs into the national penitentiary through coordination with Jose Adrian Dera.
De Lima refused once again to enter a plea in what she called “a sham case.”
“Your Honor, this charge is pure invention, pure fabrication. It’s a sham case. So there’s nothing to plead to. So therefore, I refuse to enter a plea,” she told the judge at her arraignment on Friday.
Under the court rules, when a defendant refuses to enter a plea, an automatic “not guilty” plea is entered by the court on his or her behalf.
The Department of Justice initially filed drug trading charges against De Lima but later amended it to conspiracy to commit illegal drug trading.
De Lima’s camp protested the amendment claiming that the prosecution substituted an entirely new information considering that the original crime they have imputed against her was that of illegal drug trading.
“The amended information is a duplicitous charge, a flagrant violation against me, of my constitutional right to be duly informed of the nature of the accusations against me,” she said.
Judge Amelia Fabros-Corpuz junked earlier the senator’s motion for reconsideration which sought the review of new information and charges filed against her by the Department of Justice.
De Lima’s camp insisted that up to now, the prosecution team has yet to identify the type of drugs that were allegedly used in the purported drug trade and other evidence they plan to present against her.
“Yun nga ‘yung masakit doon ‘eh. Ni hindi nga namin alam kung anong sasakyan ‘yung kinuha ni Sen. De Lima,” said Atty. Tacardon.
De Lima’s legal team is currently preparing for the pre-trial of the case in September. — Mai Bermudez
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