Sunday, July 23, 2017

WATCH | ‘We were wrong’ to vote for Duterte – Manobo datu By Bernard Testa, InterAksyon (Video) Published: July 22, 2017, 9:09 AM ( Updated: July 22, 2017, 12:50 PM )


"x x x.

Saying the plight of the lumad has not improved and, in fact, worsened with the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, a chieftain of the Manobo tribe in Surigao del Sur admits “we were wrong” to have voted for President Rodrigo Duterte last year.

Datu Rudy Ugking, who hails from Tago town, is one of the lumad who have trooped to Metro Manila, as they have for the past few years, to demand an end to the militarization of their communities, which they connect to the encroachment of commercial mining, logging and agriculture into their ancestral communities.

Over the past years, lumad communities have been caught in a seemingly endless cycle of displacement as government security forces, including military-backed militias, occupy their villages, including tribal schools set up and operated by civil society and religious organizations but which the military openly accuses of advocating and teaching support for communist rebels.

x x x."


Saturday, July 22, 2017

Martial law; excerpts from the motion for reconsideration filed by Rep. Edcel Lagman, et. al. seeking the reversal of the decision of the SC affirming Duterte's Mindanao-wide martial law proclamation

REP. EDCEL C. LAGMAN, ET. AL. vs. HON. SALVADOR C. MEDIALDEA, EXECUTIVE SECRETARY, ET AL., GR No. 231658

MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION

“x x x.

These constitutional safeguards include the grant of original, exclusive and special jurisdiction to the Honorable Supreme Court under the third paragraph of Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution to “review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the sufficiency of the factual basis of the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the writ” of habeas corpus.

A petition for the Supreme Court to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of a martial law declaration and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is justiciable and must perforce be resolved on the merits by the Supreme Court since it is outside the ambit of a political question.

A petition filed by a citizen under Section 18 of Article VII granting jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of such declaration and suspension is sui generis or a class by itself. It does not fall under the expanded power of judicial review of the Supreme Court under Section 1 of Article VIII of the Constitution and the petition for certiorari under Rule 65 of the Rules of Court wherein both instances the petitioner must prove grave abuse of discretion or arbitrariness on the part of the public respondent.

There are two indispensable concurrent requirements to warrant the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, namely, (a) actual rebellion or invasion; and (b) necessity to safeguard public safety.

The burden of proof is on the President or his subalterns to show sufficiency of the factual basis because it is the Executive who has the monopoly of supposed intelligence information which may warrant such declaration or suspension, which information is not available to the citizen-petitioner. However, Justices Bienvenido Reyes, Noel Tijam, Estela Perlas-Bernabe and Lucas Bersamin in their respective concurring opinions maintain that the petitioners have the burden of proof and/or burden of evidence.

The quantum of evidence is “probable cause”. This is the level of evidence wherein a reasonably discreet and prudent man makes a judgment based on a set of facts and circumstances. Variations were made based on standards of “reasonableness” (Justice Francis Jardeleza); “reasonableness” (Justice Jose Catral Mendoza); “adequate proof” (Justice Estela Perlas-Bernabe) and parity between “probable cause” and “reasonableness” (Justice Teresita Leonardo-De Castro).

After an extensive exposition that the President’s power to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is (a) not absolute; (b) delimited by constitutional safeguards; and (c) subject to the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review on the sufficiency of factual basis of such declaration of suspension, the ponencia digressed into self-defeating concessions of its lack of “competence” and “logistical machinery” vis-à-vis the President’s arsenal of intelligence information.

The ponencia categorically stressed that: “The Court has no machinery or tool equal to that of the Commander-in-Chief to ably and properly assess the ground conditions.” (Emphasis supplied; page 68 of the ponencia). It added that, “the Executive Department, particularly the President as Commander-in-Chief, [who] is the repository of vital, classified, and live information necessary for and relevant in calibrating the territorial application of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. It, too, is a concession that the President has the tactical and military support and thus has a more informed understanding of what is happening on the ground.” (Emphasis supplied; page 69).

Then it was underscored that: “To reiterate, the Court is not equipped with the competence and logistical machinery to determine the strategical value of other places in the military's efforts to quell the rebellion and restore peace. It would be engaging in an act of adventurism if it dares to embark on a mission of deciphering the territorial metes and bounds of martial law.” (Emphasis supplied; p. 75).

When the Framers of the 1987 Constitution included among the safeguards the grant of jurisdiction to the Supreme Court to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President’s declaration of martial of law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, they were fully aware of the President’s logistical superiority to secure and be the repository of intelligence information.

It is precisely because of this presidential superiority, which could be prone to abuse, that the Framers accorded to the Supreme Court the original, exclusive and additional power to determine the adequacy of the factual anchorage of the President’s declaration or suspension, and after finding that the factual basis is wanting, then to nullify or void the President’s declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ. This grant authorizes the Supreme Court to “interfere with the exercise of his (President’s) discretion.”

Verily, citing the Honorable Court’s lack of “competence” and “logistical machinery”, compared to the President, to access and validate intelligence reports as bases for the President’s exercise of extreme emergency powers, is a virtual forfeiture of the special power of judicial review granted to it by the Constitution.

This defeatist stance erodes the Supreme Court’s prerogative not only to sanction the President’s failure to pass the test of factual sufficiency for his declaration or suspension, but also to protect the citizens’ civil liberties from transgression as a result of an improvident and unconstitutional exercise of martial law powers by an errant President.

It must be understood that the President’s so-called logistical or tactical superiority is countervailed by the Supreme Court’s ascendency as the final arbiter of justiciable questions.

But when the Supreme Court in its Majority Decision as well as in some of the separate concurring opinions raised the white flag of lack of “competence” and “logistical machinery”, then this is an ominous prelude to abdicating its jurisdiction of judicial review.

Thus, the Supreme Court acquiesced to the President’s allegation of facts in Proclamation No. 216 and the President’s Report to the Congress when it upheld the declaration of martial of law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Marawi City and the entire Mindanao.

After laying the predicate for its abdication, it was then easy for the Supreme Court to proceed in finding sufficiency in the President’s factual allegations, given the Supreme Court’s acknowledgement of the “President’s logistical machinery” and the Supreme Court’s lack of “competence” to assess the conditions on the ground.

This abdication comes after the progressive strengthening of the Supreme Court’s review jurisdiction over the President’s exercise of martial law powers:

a)           Judicial review is barred under the doctrine of political question (Barcelon vs. Baker, 5 Phil. 87 [1905]);

b)          Judicial review is available if the President’s exercise of power is tainted with arbitrariness or grave abuse of discretion (Lansang vs. Garcia, 42 SCRA 448); and

c)           Judicial review is specifically authorized under the third paragraph of Section 18 of Article VII of the 1987 Constitution for the Supreme Court to review the sufficiency of the factual basis of such declaration or suspension.

Justice Jardeleza in his separate concurring opinion aptly said that “[b]y textually adopting the sufficiency-of-factual-basis test, the Constitution raised the bar that the Executive branch must hurdle in order to sustain the proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ.” The ponencia has lowered the bar.

No less than the Honorable Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno in her dissent remonstrated that: “This opinion will demonstrate that the Court could have avoided defaulting on its duty to fully review the action of the President. Instead, the majority emaciated the power of judicial review by giving excessive leeway to the President, resulting in the absurdity of martial law in places as terrorism and rebellion-free Dinagat Islands or Camiguin. The military has said as much: there are places in Mindanao where the Mautes will never gain a foothold. If this is so, why declare martial law over the whole of Mindanao?”                  

Traditionally and almost invariably, the Supreme Court is not a trier of facts. Nonetheless, the third paragraph of Section 18 of Article VII exceptionally empowered the Supreme Court to try, delve, assess and validate the facts in reviewing the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President’s declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ.

The pertinent provision of the Constitution unequivocally and explicitly provides:

“The Supreme Court may review, in an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, 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, and must promulgate its decision thereon within thirty days from its filing.” (Emphasis supplied).

As a trier of facts in the instant proceeding, the Supreme Court should not have limited its fact-finding inquiry to the in-camera presentation and interpellation of the respondents National Defense Secretary Lorenzana and AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Año.

The Honorable Court should have summoned motu propoio the following important resource persons or witnesses to fully review the sufficiency of the factual bases of the challenged declaration and suspension:

a)             The officials who prepared for the President Proclamation No. 216 dated 23 May 2107 and the President’s Report to the Congress dated 25 May 2017;

b)            The ranking intelligence officers who provided the President with the information and data contained in the Proclamation and Report;

c)             AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Edgard Arevalo who, according to Justice Caguioa, posted on the APF website on 24 May 2017 and on the AFP Facebook page on 23 May 2017 that (1) “we don’t have ISIS in the Philippines” but “members of local terrorist groups”; and (2) “security forces are in control of the situation” in Mararwi (T.S.N., 14 June 2017, pp. 204 to 206). The same Col. Arevalo also: (1) emphasized on 25 May 2017 that "[c]ategorically, we are saying na we do not have ISIS in the Philippines". He added that the groups posing as such "are merely courting the acclamation of ISIS." [Annex “I” of the petitioners’ Memorandum]; (2) asserted in a briefing 20 minutes before the issuance of Proclamation No. 216, or at 11:00 PM on 23 May 2017 that the situation in Marawi has stabilized and security forces are in full control of the situation [Annex “N” of the petitioners’ Memorandum]; and denied reports that the Amai Pakpak Medical Center was taken over by the Maute terrorists. He plainly stated that “[t]he news being circulated by these terrorists and their sympathizers are spurious and are meant to spread lies and disinformation. It is propaganda to attract foreign terrorists’ support and recognition.” [Annex “F-3” of the Memorandum].

d)            Marawi Operations Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera who confirmed in an interview with CNN Philippines that the military was on top of the situation one hour before the issuance of Proclamation No. 216 or at 10:30 PM on 23 May 2017 [Mentioned in the Oral Argument of Petitioner Lagman].

e)             National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. who categorically said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines was in full control of the situation at 7:28 PM or four hours before President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 in Moscow at 11:20 PM (Philippine time), on 23 May 2017. [Mentioned in the Oral Argument of Petitioner Lagman].

f)              Respondent Gen. Eduardo Año, who, while he was with the President in Moscow, told ANC Live that the military was in full control of the situation. [Annex “M” of the Memorandum].

g)            Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Mison, Jr. who admitted during the military briefing before the House Committee of the Whole that the armed conflict in Marawi City was “government-initiated” as differentiated from the Zamboanga siege in September 2013. He added that in the Zambaoga siege, “sila ang pumasok”, while in Marawi, “tayo po ang nagsimula”. [Mentioned in the Oral Arguments of Petitioner Lagman].

h)            PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa who said that the Maute bandit group has not occupied a police station in Marawi City on 24 May 2017, that “Ang headquarters ay safe, hindi naman napasok ang Marawi City Police Station. May nasunog na bahay kubo, hindi ang police station talaga.” [Annex “J” of the Memorandum].

i)               Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra who: (1) likewise refuted the reports that the APMC was taken over by the terrorists. In an interview with CNN Philippines, he stated that: “Yung sinabi po na tinakeover ay walang katotohanan" [Annex “F” of the petitioners’ Memorandum]; (b) disputed that the local police station and city jail were burned by the Maute group by saying that “Hindi po totoo na-natake over nila ang police station at ang … city jail”. [Annex “J-1” of the petitioner’s Memorandum]; and belied claims in the President’s Report that Maute Group and ASG attacked and took over various government facilities in Marawi City by explicitly saying that the “Abu Sayyaf and Maute terror groups have not taken over any government facilities in Marawi City”. [Annex “K” of the Memorandum].

j)              Dr. Amer Saber, the Chief of the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC), who categorically denied that the medical facility was overrun by members of the Maute Group. [Mentioned in the Petition and Oral Argument].

k)             Marawi City Schools Divisions Assistant Superintendent Ana Alonto who denied that the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was burned by the terrorists. [Mentioned in the Petition and Oral Argument].

l)               The responsible officials of the Landbank of the Philippines, Marawi Branch who can testify on the statement that its Marawi City branch was not ransacked. [Mentioned in the Petition and Oral Argument].

m)           Atty. Aminoden Macalandap, President of the IBP-Lanao del Sur Chapter, who reported and wrote to the President that human rights and civil liberties were being violated on an unprecedented scale by military and police elements as an aftermath of the declaration of martial law. [Mentioned in the Oral Argument].

Verily, the Honorable Supreme Court has not fully utilized its fact-finding jurisdiction to fully review and assess the President’s allegations of facts in Proclamation No. 216 and the President’s Report to the Congress.

Solicitor General Calida did not file any formal Manifestation on the necessity for holding an executive or closed-door session.

Considering that herein petitioner Lagman was privy to the briefings made by the military/defense establishment both before the Committee of the Whole in executive session of the House of Representatives and the aforesaid closed-door session of this Honorable Court, he shares the position taken by Associate Justice Jardeleza that there was nothing confidential in said briefings which were principally about past terrorist activities, which in the assessment of petitioner Lagman were acts of lawless violence and did not constitute rebellion.

Justice Jardeleza in his separate concurring opinion underscored the following points and observations:

“ …  Still, in my view, the Government’s presentation of its evidence, should in the first instance, be conducted publicly and in open court.
x x x          x x x          x x x

“ … Both presentations referred largely to past events that cannot possibly affect ongoing military operations. There was no identification of confidential sources; on the contrary, most of the information presented were in the public domain and/or already cited in Proclamation No. 216 and the President’s Report. The Court, however, decided to leave it to the government to determine which materials or information, not yet in the public domain, it would chose to release to the public.”

“My point is this: public interest would have been better served had the Court dispensed with the in camera proceedings in the first instance.

“First, this is respectful of the public’s right to information on matters of pubic concern x  x  x [c]ertainly, information on the facts supporting the declaration of martial law or the lifting of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus lie at the apex of any hierarchy of what can be considered as ‘matters of public concern’.

“Second, it would ensure accountability by forcing the government to make more diligent efforts to identify with specificity the particular pieces of evidence over which it would claim a privilege against public disclosure.

“Third, the conduct of proceedings in public would ultimately lend credibility to this Court’s decision relative to the President’s actions:

‘The right of access to the judicial process has been defined as important for ensuring accountability and instilling confidence in the administration of justice. In Union Oil Co. of Cal. V. Leavell, the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in the United States recognized a heightened burden to justify judicial secrecy, in order to protect the credibility of the decision before the public. “Any step that withdraws an element of the judicial process from public view makes the ensuing decision look more like fiat, which requires a compelling justification.” (Emphasis supplied).’

x x x          x x x          x x x

 “Otherwise stated, the government should not be allowed carte blanche invocation of privilege to justify an in camera proceeding. This would avoid normalizing what should likely be the exception in the conduct of proceedings such as this. As Justice Steward, in New York Times Co. vs. United States, teaches us:

        ‘For when everything is classified, then nothing is classified, and the system becomes one to be disregarded by the cynical or the careless, and to be manipulated by those intent on self-protection or self-promotion. x x x [s]ecrecy can best be preserved only when credibility is truly maintained.’”

What a party conceals is presumed to be against his interest.

Judicial secrecy must be avoided and the right of the public to know must be given primacy.

Further depreciating the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review in the instant proceeding, the ponencia declared that:

a)           The Court does not need to satisfy itself that the President’s decision is correct, rather only needs to determine whether the President’s decision had sufficient factual bases.” (Emphasis supplied; page 48 of the ponencia).

b)          “Corollary, as the President is expected to decide quickly on whether there is a need to proclaim martial law even only on the basis of intelligence reports, it is irrelevant, for purposes of this Court’s review, if subsequent events prove that the situation had not accurately been reported to him.” (Emphasis supplied; page 50).

c)           “At this juncture, it bears to emphasize that the purpose of judicial review is not the determination of accuracy or veracity of the facts upon which the President anchored his declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; rather, only the sufficiency of the factual basis as to convince the President that there is probable cause that rebellion exists.” (Emphasis supplied; page 54).

The foregoing pronouncements are erroneous for the following reasons:

a)           If the Honorable Court will not determine the correctness of the President’s factual allegations, how can incorrect data or information satisfy the test of factual sufficiency?

b)          It is completely unreasonable for the ponencia to say that subsequent events which prove the inaccuracy or falsity of the reports given to the President is irrelevant to the Honorable Court’s determination of factual sufficiency. Given its fact-finding jurisdiction in the instant proceeding, the Supreme Court has the opportunity to validate the accuracy or falsity of the President’s factual averments even as the President at the first instance has his logistical machinery to separate the genuine from the spurious reports. Verily, a false or inaccurate report cannot validate the sufficiency of the President’s factual allegations.

c)           How can the Supreme Court fully determine factual sufficiency if the veracity or accuracy of the President’s factual allegations is not assessed?

With all due respect to the Honorable Supreme Court, the ponencia sought the path of least resistance to uphold the President’s declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Marawi and the whole of Mindanao by unduly delimiting its judicial review power under Section 18 of Article VII.

Again, the foregoing pronouncements denigrate the jurisdiction of the Honorable Court in reviewing and determining the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President’s exercise of martial law powers for the following reasons:

a)   Instead of having a critical approach to the exercise of its power of judicial review, the Supreme Court has adopted an unduly deferential posture vis-à-vis the President.

b)   Affording the President “much leeway and flexibility” in the declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, defeats the very purpose and essence of the Court’s jurisdiction to review the sufficiency of factual basis of such declaration or suspension

c)   Excessive deference to the President defeats and emaciates the Supreme Court’s exercise of judicial review.


The ordinary presumptions of regularity and good faith have no applicability in the Supreme Court’s exercise of judicial review to determine the sufficiency of the factual basis of the President’s declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. The duty of the Honorable Court to fully review factual sufficiency should not be deterred by any presumption of regularity or good faith. Such duty must not bow to any presumption of regularity and good faith.

Judicial review under Section 18 of Article VII is not encumbered by presumption of good faith or regularity on one hand and arbitrariness or grave abuse on the other.

The Honorable Court must fully exercise its determination of sufficiency of factual basis unfettered by presumptions of good faith and regularity on the part of the President and his subalterns who have the burden of proving the sufficiency of their factual allegations in the proclamation of a state of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Moreover, the petitioner-citizens are not obliged to controvert said presumptions of regularity and good faith because such presumptions do not obtain in the instant proceeding.

In his concurring opinion, Justice Jardeleza maintains that: “[b]y setting the sufficiency-of-factual-basis standard, the Constitution foreclosed good faith belief as an absolute justification for the declaration of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ. Under Article VII, Section 18, the Court is vested with the power to revoke the proclamation, not because of grave abuse of discretion but because of insufficiency of factual basis.” (Emphasis supplied; pages 10-11).

In his dissenting opinion, Justice Alfredo Caguioa stressed: “I submit that presumption of regularity or constitutionality cannot be relied upon, neither by the Executive nor the Court, to declare there is sufficient factual basis for the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the writ. The presumption disposes of the need to present evidence – which is totally opposed to the fact-checking exercise of Section 18; to be sure, reliance on the presumption on the face of an express constitutional requirement amounts to a failure by the Executive to show sufficient factual basis, and judicially rubberstamping on the part of the Court. (Emphasis supplied; page 8 of Justice Caguioa’s dissent).

The Supreme Court has failed to fully and extensively review and assess the absence of factual sufficiency of the existence of actual rebellion in Marawi City and the rest of Mindanao because it abdicated beforehand its power of judicial review by:

a)             Claiming its lack of competence to ably determine the facts on the ground;

b)            Admitting a supposed “institutional incapacity” to vet relevant facts;

c)             Unduly deferring to the President’s logistical superiority to gather and evaluate intelligence information;

d)            Granting excessive leeway to the President’s exercise of emergency powers; and

e)             Conceding the applicability of presumptions of regularity and good faith in favor of the President, thereby emaciating the Supreme Court’s power of judicial review under Section 18 of Article VII.

14.        In view of the foregoing defeatist predispositions, the conclusion on the constitutionality of Proclamation No. 216 by the Honorable Supreme Court is flawed and tainted as an unwarranted concession to the incumbent President.

The Constitution refers to rebellion under
Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code

15.        When the Constitution provides the existence of actual rebellion as a ground for the imposition of martial law or suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, what is contemplated is the crime of rebellion under Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code. 

16.        When the 1987 Constitution was being drafted and when it was ratified by the Filipino people, the only crime of rebellion known to them is the one defined by Article 134 which provides:

"Article 134. Rebellion or insurrection – How committed. – The crime of rebellion or insurrection is committed by rising and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives."

Accordingly, the elements of rebellion are: (a) rising and taking arms against the Government; and (b) for the purpose of [i] removing from the allegiance to the Government or its laws, the territory of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body of land, naval or other armed forces, or [ii] depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.

While the first element of “rising and taking arms against the Government” may be present in Marawi City, there is absolutely no credible and sufficient factual basis for the second element of culpable political purpose: removing Marawi City or any part of Mindanao from allegiance to the government or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature of any of their powers or prerogatives.

The facts alleged in Proclamation No. 216
do not constitute rebellion

The following are the “facts” alleged in Proclamation No. 216 and the “conclusions” derived therefrom:

a)           The Maute terrorist group attacked a “military outpost in Butig, Lanao del Sur in February 2016, killing and wounding several soldiers.”

b)          The Maute terrorist group caused a “mass jailbreak in Marawi City in August 2016, freeing their arrested comrades and other detainees.”

c)           The Maute terrorist group on 23 May 2017 “has taken over a hospital in Marawi City, Lanao del Sur.”

d)          The Maute terrorist group “established several checkpoints within the City.”

e)           The Maute terrorist group “burned down certain government and private facilities.”

f)            The Maute terrorist group “inflicted casualties on the part of government forces.”

g)          The Maute terrorist group “started flying the flag of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) in several areas, thereby openly attempting to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government this part of Mindanao and deprive the Chief Executive of his powers and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and to maintain public order and safety in Mindanao, constituting the crime of rebellion.”

h)          “These recent acts show the capacity of the Maute Group and other rebel groups to sow terror and cause deaths and damage to property not only in Lanao del Sur but also in other parts of Mindanao.”

The foregoing allegations of facts and conclusions of fact and law do not establish a sufficient factual basis for the imposition of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus based on the ground of actual rebellion due to the following overriding reasons: 

a)           The attack on a military outpost in Butig, Lanao del Sur in February 2016 was an act of terrorism not amounting to rebellion. In fact, it happened on 20 February 2016, one year and three months before the issuance of Proclamation No. 216. It had been quelled and the outpost and other areas had been recovered by the military after 10 days of military operations. Definitely, this terrorist attack could not be used as a factual basis of Proclamation No. 216 as it is far too distant.

b)          The mass jailbreak in Marawi City in August 2016 is also a terrorist act, which similarly does not constitute rebellion. Admittedly, this happened nine months before Proclamation No. 216. It could not be used as basis for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ.

c)           The hospital in Marawi which was reportedly taken over by the Maute terrorist group on 23 May 2017 has been identified as the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in the President’s Report to the Congress. This turned out to be false and inaccurate because:

·     Dr. Amer Saber, Chief of Hospital of the Amai Pakpak Medical Center (APMC) belied reports that the APMC was taken over by Maute terrorists. Although he confirmed that the terrorists brought in a wounded comrade for medical treatment, he stressed that they were “very courteous” and the hospital personnel did not feel harassed by the Maute fighters.

·     In a statement, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial also denied that the APMC was overrun by Maute terrorists and 21 health personnel were taken hostage. She underscored in her statement that there was “no such event” (hostage-taking) and “the APMC continues to be fully functional”.

·     Philippine National Police (PNP) Spokesman Senior Superintendent Dionardo Carlos in a press briefing on 24 May 2017 echoed the pronouncements of Dr. Saber and Secretary Ubial. He was quoted to have said: “Yun pong pagpunta ng grupo (Maute group) sa ospital, they did not control the entire hospital. They were there to seek medical assistance dahil may tama yung kanilang kasama”.

·     Even as early as 23 May 2017 or the day Proclamation No. 216 was issued, Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP Public Affairs Office Chief, already denied reports that the APMC was taken over by the Maute terrorists. He plainly stated that “The news being circulated by these terrorists and their sympathizers are spurious and are meant to spread lies and disinformation. It is propaganda to attract foreign terrorists’ support and recognition.”

·     The Mayor of Marawi City himself, Mayor Majul Gandamra, likewise refuted the reports that the APMC was taken over by the terrorists. In an interview with CNN Philippines, he stated that: “Yung sinabi po na tinakeover ay walang katotohanan".

d)          The establishment of several checkpoints within Marawi City by the Maute terrorist group is not an unusual practice and is not indicative of rebellion.

e)           The government and private facilities allegedly burned down have not been identified. Marawi City Mayor Gandamra himself told ABS-CBN news channel that the “Abu Sayyaf and Maute terror groups have not taken over any government facilities in Marawi City”. Granting that this burning is true, it is the result of acts of terrorism, not rebellion.

f)            The casualties on the part of government forces do not evince rebellion, as they were the consequence of the armed resistance by the Maute Group and their relatives and sympathizers as an act of pintakasi to shield Hapilon and the Maute brothers from arrest and capture by the military. This is similar to the Mamasapano massacre where the forces of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the breakaway Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) temporality set aside their animosities to jointly engage the police Special Action Force (SAF) in a fierce gun battle.

g)          The mere fact that the Maute Group flew the ISIS or Daesh flag is not indicative of removing Marawi City from its allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines or depriving the President of his powers and prerogatives. At most, it was cheap propaganda, which the Maute terrorists have been employing even in past violent incidents to attract the attention of ISIS and place Maute in the global stage. The presentation by the Solicitor General of the captured ISIS flag at the start of his Oral Argument was mere dramatics.

Moreover, the President is not deprived of any of his powers and prerogatives to maintain public order and safety in Mindanao because the channels of civilian and military command are open and working. The Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police and all the Local Government Units (LGUs) in the whole of Mindanao are operational.

Two days after the issuance of Proclamation No. 216, Col. Edgard Arevalo, AFP spokesperson, emphasized that "Categorically, we are saying na we do not have ISIS in the Philippines". He added that the groups posing as such "are merely courting the acclamation of ISIS."

h)          The alleged capacity of the Maute Group and other unidentified rebel groups “to sow terror and cause deaths and damage to property” refers to their capability to launch acts of terrorism. It cannot be used to conclude capacity to commit actual rebellion, which bare conclusion should not be extrapolated to the entire Mindanao region. This alleged capacity is similar to an “imminent danger” of rebellion which is not anymore a ground for imposing martial law or suspending the writ.

The facts averred in the President’s Report to Congress do not constitute sufficient factual basis for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Like the factual allegations in Proclamation No. 216, the facts averred in the President’s Report to the Congress, either taken singly or collectively, do not establish sufficiency of factual basis for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus for failure to show that there is actual rebellion in Marawi City and elsewhere in Mindanao.

The following are some of the notable but deficient facts alleged in the President’s Report:

a)           At 1400H (2:00PM on 23 May 2017) the Maute Group and ASG’s commenced “attack on various facilities – government and privately owned – in the City of Marawi”.

b)          The terrorists “assaulted Marawi City Jail being managed by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP)” and the Maute Group “forcibly entered the jail facilities, destroyed its main gate and assaulted on-duty personnel” who were “disarmed, tied and/or locked inside the cells.” The Maute Group also “facilitated the escape of at least sixty eight (68) inmates of the City Jail.”

c)           The “supply of power into Marawi City had been interrupted” and by evening “the power outage had spread citywide.”

d)          Members of the Maute Group “ambushed and burned the Marawi Police Station” and “a patrol car of the Police Station was also taken.” (Subsequently denied).

e)           By evening of 23 May 2017, “at least three (3) bridges in Lanao del Sur, namely, Lilod, Bangulo and Saularan, fell under the control of these groups. They threatened to bomb the bridges to preempt military reinforcement.”

f)            Later, “persons connected with the Maute Group had occupied several areas in Marawi City, including Naga St., Banggolo St., Mapandi, and Camp Kiethly, as well as the following barangays Basak, Malutlot, Mapandi, Saduc, Lilod, Maday, Bangon, Saber, Bubong, Marantao, Caloocan, Banggolo, Barionaga, and Abubakar.” (Only 13.54% of the 96 barangays in Marawi City were reportedly occupied).

g)          The “lawless armed groups had likewise set up road blockages and checkpoints at the Iligan City-Marawi City junction.”

h)          The “Maute Group burned Dansalan College Foundation, Cathedral of Maria Auxiliadora, the nun’s quarters in the Church and the Shia Masjid Moncado Colony. Hostages were taken from the Church.”

i)             “About five (5) faculty members of Dansalan College Foundation had been reportedly killed by the lawless groups.”

j)            “Other educational institutions were also burned namely, Senator Ninoy Aquino College Foundation and the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School.” (Subsequently denied).

k)           “The Maute Group also attacked Amai Pakpak Hospital and hoisted the Daesh flag there, among other several locations. As of 0600H of 24 May 2017, members of the Maute Group were seen guarding the entry gates of the Amai Pakpak Hospital. They held hostage the employees of the hospital and took over the PhilHealth Office located thereat.” (Subsequently denied).

l)             “The Groups likewise laid siege to another hospital, Filipino-Libyan Friendship Hospital, which they later set ablaze.”

m)         “Lawless armed groups likewise ransacked the Landbank of the Philippines and commandeered one of its armored vehicles.” (Subsequently denied).

n)          “There are reports that these lawless armed groups are searching for Christian communities in Marawi City to execute Christians. They are also preventing Maranaos from leaving their homes and forcing young male Muslims to join their groups.” (Only 0.4% of the population in Marawi City is Christian; 99.6% is Muslim).

o)           “Based on various verified intelligence reports from the AFP and the PNP, there exists a strategic mass action of lawless armed groups in Marawi City, seizing public and private facilities, perpetrating killings of government personnel and committing armed uprising and open defiance of the government.

The foregoing facts failed to provide sufficient factual anchorage for Proclamation No. 216 for the following overriding reasons:

a)           The facts cited above in letters (a), (b), (c), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (l), (n) and (o) narrate acts of terrorism which do not constitute actual rebellion in the absence of a credible showing that the culpable purpose of the said acts of terrorism is to remove Marawi City and other parts of Mindanao from allegiance to the Republic of the Philippines or deprive the President of his powers and prerogatives.

b)          The conclusion of fact and law in the President’s Report that actual rebellion exists and the purpose is to establish an ISIS wilayah in Marawi City is utterly conjectural and unfortunately mirrors terrorist propaganda.

c)           The display of ISIS or Daesh flags do not show that the Maute and Hapilon’s faction of the Abu Sayaf are removing Marawi from allegiance to the Philippines. This flag raising propaganda has been repeatedly done before by terrorist groups to project themselves as ISIS-supported. The government must not succumb to this cheap propaganda.

Projected establishment of a
wilayah is another terrorist propaganda

d)          The design that the Maute and Abu Sayyaf Groups are establishing an ISIS wilayah in Marawi City is another propaganda to attract the attention and support of ISIS. It is ironic that ISIS has not responded to this but the government has considered it a factual verity, thus making the government a purveyor of terrorist propaganda.

e)           ISIS presence in Mindanao and support of terrorist groups in Mindanao lack concrete validation. The Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups are not affiliated with ISIS because ISIS has not bestowed on them recognition. The ISIS has declared 10 countries as part of its “caliphate” and these “ISIS provinces” are Kenya, Somalia, Nigeria, Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Philippines is not included.

False and inaccurate facts

What is important to underscore is that many of the facts recited in the President’s Report turned out to be false, non-existent and inaccurate, like the following:

a)           The allegation in the President’s Report that the Amai Pakpak Medical Center was attacked by the Maute Group who held hostage the employees of the hospital was strongly denied as false, as discussed above, by (i) Dr. Amer Saber, the Chief of the Hospital; (ii) Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial; (iii) PNP Spokesperson Senior Supt. Dionardo Carlos; (iv) AFP Public Affairs Office Chief Col. Edgard Arevalo; and (v) Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra.

b)          The statement in the President’s Report that the “Maute Group ambushed and burned the Marawi Police Station” was denied by no less than PNP Director General Ronald dela Rosa who said that the Marawi bandit group has not occupied a police station in Marawi City. He said in an interview on DZMM on Wednesday night, 24 May 2017, that “Ang headquarters ay safe, hindi naman napasok ang Marawi City Police Station. May nasunog na bahay kubo, hindi ang police station talaga.” Marawi City Mayor Majul Gandamra also disputed that the local police station and city jail were burned by the Maute group. Speaking to CNN Philippines anchor Pinky Webb on The Source, Gandamra said: “Hindi po totoo na-natake over nila ang police station at ang … city jail”.

c)           The President’s Report also highlighted that “Lawless armed groups likewise ransacked the Landbank of the Philippines and commandeered one of its armored vehicles.” The bank clarified that its Marawi City branch was not ransacked. The bank also confirmed that the seized armored vehicle is not owned by the bank but by a third party provider and was empty at that time.

d)          The President’s Report also stated that the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was also burned. This was denied by Marawi City Schools Division Assistance Superintendent Ana Alonto who that the Marawi Central Elementary Pilot School was not burned by the terrorists. Likewise, Department of Education Assistant Secretary Tonisito Umali said they have not received any report of damage caused by fire of said school.

e)           While the President’s Report stated that the Maute Group and ASG attacked (and took over) various government facilities in Marawi City, Mayor Gandamra told ABS-CBN news channel that the “Abu Sayyaf and Maute terror groups have not taken over any government facilities in Marawi City”. 

f)            Moreover, granting that the terrorists have occupied 13 barangays in Marawi City, this is only 13.54% of the 96 barangays in Marawi City. It must be stressed that the Marawi City Hall and the Lanao del Sur Provincial Capitol in Marawi City have not been attacked and seized by the terrorists. In other words, the seats of government in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur have not been occupied and controlled by the terror groups. CNN Philippines said that, “Gandamra has since disputed that the City Hall has been taken over, since he is currently in the venue along with his relatives and staff.”

The foregoing contention is erroneous because: (a) the petitioners are not obliged to controvert the facts alleged by the President or his subalterns who have the burden of proof; (b) the petitioners are not supposed to have personal knowledge of the facts alleged by the President in his Proclamation and Report; and (c) the “other facts”, as previously discussed, do not constitute sufficient basis for the declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ.

Unwarranted and baseless conclusions of fact and law have no legal pedigree or evidentiary value

The assertion that the Maute Group and the Abu Sayyaf Group (Hapilon faction) laid siege to Marawi City is a conclusion of fact that is belied by admissions from the military establishment that it was the military, not the terrorists, who initiated the armed confrontation, and the armed resistance of the Maute Group was not to seize Marawi City but to shield and protect Hapilon and the Maute brothers from capture by the military.

Armed conflict in Marawi initiated by government forces

On the fact that the current armed conflict in Marawi City was precipitated and initiated by government forces, the following are clear admissions of government civilian and military authorities:

a)           Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in Moscow on 23 May 2017 that fighting has erupted in Marawi City when the state security forces attempted “to serve a warrant of arrest on Isnilon Hapilon” in Barangay Basak, Marawi City.

b)          Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana likewise stated in Moscow in the same press briefing that government forces were surprised that Hapilon’s armed followers resisted the serving of the warrant on Hapilon stating that “x x x medyo nabigla lang sila doon because they were expecting to arrest Mr. Isnilon (Hapilon). They didn’t know that he was backed up by more or less 100 armed fighters x x x.” 

c)           The President’s Report also stated that “On 23 May 2017, a government operation to capture Isnilon Hapilon, senior leader of the ASG and Maute Group operational leaders Abdullah and Omarkhayam Maute, was confronted with armed resistance which escalated into open hostility against the government.

d)          When asked during the military briefing before the House Committee of the Whole on the variance between the Zamboanga siege and current Marawi “siege”, Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Salvador Mison, Jr. said that in the “Zamboanga siege sila po ang pumasok. Sa Marawi, tayo po ang nagsimula.” He added that the armed conflict in Marawi City was “government-initiated” as differentiated from the Zamboanga siege.

e)           The aforesaid statements of Lt. General Mison are confirmatory of a previous admission in the same briefing by the military establishment that what triggered the ongoing armed confrontation in Marawi City was the military operation to neutralize or capture Isnilon Hapilon, a high-profile terrorist commander which was resisted by the Maute Group. Consequently, the armed resistance is not intended to seize Marawi City and remove its allegiance to the Republic.

Verily, it is baseless for the President to conclude that Marawi City is under “siege” amounting to rebellion because the armed resistance of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups was not to capture Marawi City but to divert the attention of the military offensive and shield Hapilon and the Maute brothers from capture.

Under these circumstances, staging a rebellion was not in the agenda of the terrorists who were engaged in pintakasi to help embattled comrades from a superior government military force.

The element of culpable political purpose
of rebellion is absent

Summary of the grounds why there is no sufficient factual basis for Proclamation No. 216

The following are the grounds showing that the assailed declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus under Proclamation No. 216 are bereft of sufficient factual basis:

a)           There is no actual rebellion in Marawi City and elsewhere in Mindanao.

b)          The element of culpable political purpose is absent.

c)           The projected establishment of an ISIS wilayah in Marawi City or Mindanao is basically conjectural and unsubstantiated without any confirmation from ISIS even as it is a self-serving propaganda by terrorist groups to attract the attention of ISIS.

d)          The ongoing armed conflict in Marawi City was initiated by government forces and was precipitated by the military operation to neutralize and capture Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of an Abu Sayyaf faction.

e)           The Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups resisted the aforesaid military operation to shield and protect Hapilon and the Maute brothers from capture.

f)            The armed resistance of the terrorist groups was a pintakasi to help embattled comrades, not to seize Marawi City whose City Hall (like the Provincial Capitol) was not even attacked or overrun.

g)          Shortly before and contemporaneous with the issuance of Proclamation No. 216, responsible Philippine civilian and military officials in the country and those with the President in Moscow assured that the situation in Marawi City was under control and the military was on top of the situation.

h)          Mere conclusions of fact and law regarding the factual basis for Proclamation No. 216 have no legal pedigree.

i)             The reported capacity of the terrorist groups to perpetuate acts of terrorism, even rebellion, is akin to “imminent danger” which is no longer a constitutional ground for the declaration of martial law or the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

j)            There is no showing that securing public safety was paramount and necessary.

k)           The present tragic and appalling situation in Marawi City is the aftermath of the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, which was not the prevailing factual situation on the ground on 23 May 2017 when Proclamation No. 216 was issued.

l)             The turmoil in Marawi City cannot be extrapolated to the entire Mindanao region for the latter’s inclusion in the coverage of Proclamation No. 216.

The appalling escalation of deaths of soldiers and terrorists, including innocent civilians; massive destruction of both public and private properties; and the wide-spread displacement of residents, many of whom have died in cramped and unsanitary makeshift evacuation centers, are the horrific aftermath of the declaration of martial law.

These were not the prevailing conditions at the time Proclamation No. 216 was issued on 23 May 2017.

Consequently, this tragic subsequent events cannot be considered as basis of the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus consistent with the ponencia’s ruling that only the facts alleged in the Proclamation and Report are to be assessed in determining sufficiency of factual basis.

This tragic and horrific aftermath could have been avoided had martial law not been declared. The improvident and unconstitutional imposition gave the military and police forces the go-signal to inordinately intensify their air strikes and land operations which resulted to the devastation of Marawi City.

The administration’s policy of “destroy and rehabilitate” is grossly errant because massive destruction should be avoided so that any rehabilitation would require less funding and easier to implement.

Those who call for the retaking or liberation of Marawi from the terrorist groups are so myopic that they do not see that Marawi was never under siege.

In the first place, it is admitted that it was the military that initiated the armed conflict by attempting to arrest Hapilon and the Maute brothers, which was resisted by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.

Neither Marawi City Hall nor the Provincial Capitol of Lanao del Sur was occupied or captured by the terrorist groups.

17.        Civilian authorities both in Marawi City and in Lanao del Sur continue to operate.

Verily, since Marawi City and Lanao del Sur were never effectively captured by the terrorists, then there is nothing to retake or liberate.
It is hyperbolic to assert that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic were imperiled by the lawless violence and armed conflict in Marawi City.

The military’s superior might was at all times ascendant over the terrorist forces.

The oft-repeated reference that Mindanao is the “hotbed of rebellion” is now more a matter of expression than a dangerous verity.

The application of the principle that rebellion is a “continuing offense” is limited to effecting the lawful arrest of a suspected rebel wherever he is found, even outside of the place where he committed rebellion.

The import of this principle does not include a “creeping rebellion” which may be considered to spread to other places without the commission of the acts of rebellion in such “other places” other than presence of a rebel or rebels coming from elsewhere.

In other words, “continuing rebellion” means that the culpability or complicity of a suspected rebel attaches to his person wherever he goes.

But it does not sustain the proposition that the rebel automatically carries with him the acts of rebellion he has committed elsewhere, unless he repeats the inculpatory acts in the new place where he is located or found.

Hence, the alleged acts of “rebellion” committed in Marawi City, granting arguendo that they did happen, is not extendable to other parts of Mindanao where no actual rebellion is happening, although the culpability for rebellion continues to follow the Maute “rebel” even when he goes outside Marawi City.

In People vs. Lovedioro (G.R. No. 112235, November 29, 1995), a self-confessed NPA was held guilty of murder, not of the political crime of rebellion, because his killing of a police officer was not in furtherance of the NPA’s rebellion.

What is relevant to note in Lovedioro is the Supreme Court’s statement that rebellion is “essentially a crime of masses or multitudes involving crowd action, which cannot be confined a priori within predetermined bounds.”

Consequently, rebellion is not a sporadic or isolated puny armed public uprising. The mere presence of a rebel or rebels in another location coming from another place does not constitute rebellion.

Verily, the ponencia and the separate concurring opinions of some of the Justices misapplied the “doctrine of rebellion as a continuing offense” by extrapolating the alleged rebellion in Marawi City to the entire Mindanao region even when the elements of actual rebellion are absent elsewhere.

Aside from an actual rebellion, it is also indispensable that securing public safety is paramount

Except for self-serving conclusions of fact and law, neither Proclamation No. 216 nor the President’s Report to the Congress laid down the factual basis for the need to secure public safety. The serious gravity of the circumstances requiring the protection of public safety proximate to the issuance of Proclamation No. 216 dated 23 May 2017 is belied by the uniform assessment by the military of the situation in Marawi City hours before and contemporaneous with the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus by the President.

a)           According to responsible military officials, the situation in Marawi City was under control and the military was on top of the situation shortly before and at the time Proclamation No. 216 was issued.

b)          At 7:28 PM or four hours before President Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 in Moscow at 11:20 PM (Philippine time), on 23 May 2017, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, Jr. categorically said that the Armed Forces of the Philippines was in full control of the situation.

c)           About two hours later, at 9:45 PM on 23 May 2017, Respondent Gen. Eduardo Año, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, who was with the President in Moscow, told ANC Live that the military was in full control.

d)          One hour before the issuance of Proclamation No. 216 or at 10:30 PM on 23 May 2017, Marawi Operations Spokesperson Lt. Col. Jo-Ar Herrera confirmed in an interview with CNN Philippines that the military was on top of the situation.

e)           Twenty minutes before the issuance of Proclamation No. 216, or at 11:00 PM on 23 May 2017, Col. Edgard Arevalo, Chief of the AFP Public Affairs Office, asserted in a briefing that the situation in Marawi has stabilized and security forces are in full control of the situation.

Verily, not only was there no sufficient basis on the existence of rebellion, there was also no factual anchorage for the necessity of imposing martial law in order to secure public safety.

Terrorism does not equate to rebellion

Acts of terrorism are not necessarily equivalent to actual rebellion and the consequent requirement of securing public safety to justify the assailed declaration and suspension. No less than Justice Secretary Aguirre admitted that acts of terrorism do not automatically constitute rebellion. It is for this reason that the Human Security Act of 2007 (R.A. No. 9372) was enacted to punish acts of terrorism which do not constitute rebellion.

Moreover, the inculpatory elements of rebellion under Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code are different from the elements of terrorism.

The criminal essence of terrorism is “sowing and creating a condition of widespread and extraordinary fear and panic among the populace, in order to coerce the government to give in to an unlawful demand”. (Section 3 of R.A. No. 9372).

As defined, terrorism is essentially politically neutral unlike rebellion.

While rebellion could be a predicate crime of terrorism, it is actual rebellion as a separate offense which is a ground for the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

Rebellion has a culpable political purpose: removing the Philippines or a part thereof from allegiance to the Republic or preventing the President or the Legislature from exercising their powers and prerogatives.

This culpable political purpose is utterly absent in the alleged “rebellion” in Marawi City and elsewhere in Mindanao.

Defense and military officials have admitted that the current armed conflict in Marawi City was government-initiated and the armed confrontation was precipitated by the military operation to neutralize or capture Hapilon, which was resisted by the Maute Group.

Consequently, there is lawless violence or terrorism in Marawi City, but not actual rebellion.

After rejecting the news accounts presented by the petitioners to show absence of sufficient basis for the President’s declaration of martial law and suspension of the writ of habeas corpus on the ground that said news reports from online sources are hearsay and, therefore, inadmissible and lacks probative value, the Justices themselves cited online information to justify their respective disquisitions x x x.

The majority of the Honorable Court ruled that the burden of proof in the instant proceeding is on the government or the public respondents, the alter egos of the President, since it is the Executive who has the monopoly of intelligence information to which the petitioner-citizens do not have access.

For this reason, petitioners are not obligated to controvert the factual allegations of the President over which they do not naturally have personal knowledge.

Consequently, the petitioners resort to reliable secondary sources of information like news reportage and online accounts, should be exempt from the hearsay rule.

If the Honorable Justices availed of online information and even online ISIS propaganda materials to justify their findings, why should the petitioners be hamstrung by a strict application of the hearsay rule?

There are instances when newspaper or media accounts are admissible in evidence as exception to the hearsay rule, like in the following:

a)           In Bedol vs. COMELEC (G.R. No. 179830, December 03, 2009), it was ruled that hearsay evidence (news clippings published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer) may be admitted by the courts on grounds of “relevance, trustworthiness and necessity”.

b)          Another exception to the hearsay rule is the doctrine of independently relevant statements (Bedol vs. COMELEC, supra).

c)           The “law governing hearsay is somewhat less than pellucid. And, as with many rules, the hearsay rule is not absolute, it is replete with exceptions. Witnesses die, documents are lost, deeds are destroyed, memories fade. All too often, primary evidence is not available and courts and lawyers must rely on secondary evidence.” (Dallas County vs. Commercial Union Assurance Co., 286 F 2d 388 [156 Cir. 1961]).

d)          “News articles, however, may be introduced if they are bolstered by supporting evidence that confers circumstantial guarantees of trustworthiness upon them.” Trustworthiness is met when three independent newspapers attributed similar quotations to the same person. (A Student’s Guide to Trial Objections, pp. 242-243, Thomas Reuters, United States of America, 2015).

It must be underscored that the Solicitor General failed to submit the affidavit required by Associate Justice Alfredo Caguioa and this Honorable Court to clarify or retract his statement which appeared in the AFP website and AFP Facebook page that: (1) there are no ISIS members in the Philippines; and (2) the government security forces were in control of Marawi on 23 May 2017.

X x x.”


LAGMAN LAGMAN & MONES LAW FIRM
Counsel for the Petitioners
2/F Tempus Place Condominium
Makatarungan and Matalino Streets,
Brgy. Central, Diliman, Quezon City
Telefax: 433-5354

EDCEL GRECO A. B. LAGMAN
Roll of Attorney’s No. 45738 24 May 2001
IBP Lifetime No. 012364
16 January 2014/Albay Chapter
Mobile No. 09163324958