- command all the armed forces of the Philippines;
- suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus; and
- declare martial law.
Based on the constitutional principle of the supremacy of the civilian authority over the military, the President is held as the Commander-in-Chief of all the armed forces. Whenever necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress violence, invasion or rebellion only.
The writ of habeas corpus is a writ directed to the person detaining another, commanding him to produce the body of the prisoner at a designated time and place, with the day and cause of his caption and detention, to do, to submit to, and receive whatever the court or judge awarding the writ shall consider in his behalf. It is a high prerogative common law writ of ancient origin the great object of which is the liberation of those who may be in prison without sufficient cause. (Moran)
The President is entrusted the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Note that what is suspended is not the writ itself but only the privilege of it. This means that when the court receives an application for the writ, and it finds the petition in proper form, it will issue the writ as a matter of course, i.e., the court will issue an order commanding the production before the court of the person allegedly detained, at a time and place stated in the order, and requiring the true cause of his detention to be shown to the court. If the return to the writ shows that the person in custody was apprehended and detained in areas where the privilege of the writ has been suspended or for crimes mentioned in the executive proclamation, the court will suspend further proceedings in the action. (Cruz, 2002)
Martial law refers to that law which has application when the military arm does not supersede civilian authority but is called upon to aid it in the execution of its civil function.
During martial law, there is no new powers given to the executive, no extension of arbitrary authority is recognized, no civil rights are suspended. The relations between the state and its citizens is unchanged. The interference that may be caused to personal freedom or property rights must always be based on necessity.
Limitations of the Military Powers
The military powers of the President is not absolute. The following are the limitations on the military powers of the President:
- He may call out the armed forces when it becomes necessary to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion only.
- The grounds for the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus and the proclamation of martial law are now limited only to invasion or rebellion, when the public safely requires it.
- The duration of such suspension or proclamation shall not exceed sixty days, following which it shall be automatically lifted.
- Within forty-eight hours after such suspension or proclamation, the President shall personally or in writing report his action to the Congress. If not in session, Congress must convene within 24 hours without need of a call.
- The Congress may then, by a majority vote of all its members voting jointly, revoke his action.
- The revocation may not be set aside by the President.
- By the same veto and in the same manner, the Congress may, upon initiative of the President, extend his suspension or proclamation for a period to be determined by the Congress if the invasion or rebellion shall continue and the public safety requires the extension.
- The action of the President and the Congress shall be subject to review by the Supreme Court which shall have the authority to determine the sufficiency of the factual basis of such action. This matter is no longer considered a political question and may be raised in an appropriate proceeding by any citizen. Moreover, the Supreme Court must decide the challenge within thirty days from the time it is filed.
- Martial law does not automatically suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or the operation of the Constitution. The civil courts and the legislative bodies shall remain open. Military courts and agencies are not conferred jurisdiction over civilians where the civil courts are functioning.
- The suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall apply only to persons facing charges of rebellion or offenses inherent in or directly connected with invasion.
- Any person arrested for such offense must be judicially charged therewith within three days. Otherwise he shall be released.