Neutering Congress and the Supreme Court:
Statement of Senators Noynoy Aquino and Mar Roxas on the Lifting of Martial Law in Maguindanao
This afternoon Executive Secretary Eduardo Ermita announced that the President will lift martial law and the suspension of the writ in Maguindanao effective 9 PM tonight.
The Filipino people deserve praise for the vigilance and scrutiny they have exercised since the Maguindanao Massacre took place, and since the President imposed martial law. Public outrage and devotion to constitutional principles pushed Congress, in particularly the House of Representatives which was uninclined to even meet with the Senate, to assemble in joint session.
During the joint session we saw the government stumble and falter, proving itself willfully ignorant of the law and of the Constitution’s requirements. Focused and fearless reports by the media showed that much more was accomplished to obtain justice for the massacre victims by the Human Rights Commission and by the police and military before martial law was proclaimed.
However, let us not be carried away by feelings of relief over the lifting of martial law.
By this action, President Arroyo has deprived Congress of its constitutional mandate to exercise oversight. On cue from the Palace, the Speaker says he wants to adjourn the joint session reviewing the declaration of martial law thus sparing Malacañang from the scrutiny of its disastrous illegal misadventure. We believe the administration will make the same case when it comes to the Supreme Court, which was due to hear the government’s response on Monday, to the many cases questioning martial law.
As the President has done before, so she’s doing it again: she has pushed the envelope but withdrawn her controversial proclamations before anyone can actually render a verdict on their legality or wisdom.
The Supreme Court and Congress must continue to examine and pass judgment on this illegal martial law declaration in order to set the proper guidelines for the correct exercise of the President’s powers.