Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Emergency powers of the president - G.R. No. 190259

G.R. No. 190259

"x x x.

Two. Petitioners contend that the President unlawfully exercised emergency powers when she ordered the deployment of AFP and PNP personnel in the places mentioned in the proclamation.[16] But such deployment is not by itself an exercise of emergency powers as understood under Section 23 (2), Article VI of the Constitution, which provides:

SECTION 23. x x x (2) In times of war or other national emergency, the Congress may, by law, authorize the President, for a limited period and subject to such restrictions as it may prescribe, to exercise powers necessary and proper to carry out a declared national policy. Unless sooner withdrawn by resolution of the Congress, such powers shall cease upon the next adjournment thereof.

The President did not proclaim a national emergency, only a state of emergency in the three places mentioned. And she did not act pursuant to any law enacted by Congress that authorized her to exercise extraordinary powers. The calling out of the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence in such places is a power that the Constitution directly vests in the President. She did not need a congressional authority to exercise the same.

Three. The President’s call on the armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence springs from the power vested in her under Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, which provides.[17]

SECTION 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion. x x x

While it is true that the Court may inquire into the factual bases for the President’s exercise of the above power,[18] it would generally defer to her judgment on the matter. As the Court acknowledged in Integrated Bar of the Philippines v. Hon. Zamora,[19] it is clearly to the President that the Constitution entrusts the determination of the need for calling out the armed forces to prevent and suppress lawless violence. Unless it is shown that such determination was attended by grave abuse of discretion, the Court will accord respect to the President’s judgment. Thus, the Court said:

If the petitioner fails, by way of proof, to support the assertion that the President acted without factual basis, then this Court cannot undertake an independent investigation beyond the pleadings. The factual necessity of calling out the armed forces is not easily quantifiable and cannot be objectively established since matters considered for satisfying the same is a combination of several factors which are not always accessible to the courts. Besides the absence of textual standards that the court may use to judge necessity, information necessary to arrive at such judgment might also prove unmanageable for the courts. Certain pertinent information might be difficult to verify, or wholly unavailable to the courts. In many instances, the evidence upon which the President might decide that there is a need to call out the armed forces may be of a nature not constituting technical proof.

On the other hand, the President, as Commander-in-Chief has a vast intelligence network to gather information, some of which may be classified as highly confidential or affecting the security of the state. In the exercise of the power to call, on-the-spot decisions may be imperatively necessary in emergency situations to avert great loss of human lives and mass destruction of property. Indeed, the decision to call out the military to prevent or suppress lawless violence must be done swiftly and decisively if it were to have any effect at all. x x x.[20]

Here, petitioners failed to show that the declaration of a state of emergency in the Provinces of Maguindanao, Sultan Kudarat and Cotabato City, as well as the President’s exercise of the “calling out” power had no factual basis. They simply alleged that, since not all areas under the ARMM were placed under a state of emergency, it follows that the take over of the entire ARMM by the DILG Secretary had no basis too.[21]

x x x."