Martial law in Mindanao: 10 things you need to know whenever the President declares martial law

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A local terror group known as Maute began its series of attacks in Marawi City on May 23, 2017.

Due to this incident, President Rodrigo Duterte had to cut short his trip abroad and declared martial law in Mindanao.

While I may have doubts on the validity of the action taken, I will for now refrain from making any definitive conclusion.

Instead, I will discuss the ten (10) things you need to know whenever the President declares martial law.

  1.  Invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it

There is no question that the President has the power to declare martial law.

This is clear in our Constitution.

But you need to remember that he can exercise it only in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it.

This means he can declare martial law only if there is either invasion or rebellion plus the public safety requires it.

  1.  Sixty (60) days

Once declared, martial law will only be good for 60 days, unless, of course, it is revoked or extended.

  1.  Whole or any part of the country

The whole or any part of the country may be placed under martial law.

In so far as the martial law recently declared is concerned, it is limited only to Mindanao.

  1.  Forty-eight (48) hours

Within 48 hours from the declaration of martial law, the President has to submit a report to the Congress either in person or in writing.

By Congress, it refers to both the Senate and the House of Representatives.

  1.  Power of Congress to revoke

The Congress may revoke the martial law declared by the President.

And it may do so by a joint vote of at least a majority of all its members in a regular or special session.

The President cannot set aside the decision of the Congress to revoke it.

  1.  Power of Congress to extend

In the same manner, the Congress may extend the martial law declared by the President.

But it may only do so if all of the following are present:

(a)     The extension is upon the initiative of the President,

(b)     The invasion or rebellion persists, and

(c)     The public safety requires it.

It will also be the Congress who will determine the period of extension.

  1.  Twenty-four (24) hours

If it is not in session, the Congress has to convene in accordance with its rules and without need of a call within 24 hours following the declaration of martial law.

  1.  Power of the Supreme Court to review

In an appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen, the Supreme Court may review the sufficiency of the factual basis of the declaration of martial law or its extension.

  1.  Thirty (30) days

The Supreme Court has 30 days from the filing of the appropriate proceeding to promulgate its decision.

  1.  State of martial law

Finally, a state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution.

Neither does it supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative assemblies.

Nor does it authorize the conferment of jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function.

And it does not automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

[Reference: Article VII (Executive Department), Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution]

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