PHILIPPINES: Supreme Court held the State of Emergency in Sulu unconstitutional 

The Free Cocoy Tulawie Movement is happy to announce the Decision of the Supreme Court dated July 3, 2012 which GRANTED the Petition for Certiorari and Prohibition filed by Temogen “Cocoy” Tulawie against Governor Sakur Tan for declaring the Province of Sulu in a State of Emergency last March 31, 2009.

Penned by Associate Justice Maria Lourdes P. A. Sereno, the Supreme Court held, among others, that: “It is only the President, as Executive, who is authorized to exercise emergency powers as provided under Section 23, Article VI, of the Constitution, as well as what became known as the calling-out powers under Section 7, Article VII thereof”.

“Given the foregoing, the respondent provincial governor is not endowed with the power to call upon the armed forces at his own bidding. In issuing the assailed proclamation, Gov. Tan exceeded his authority when he declared a state of emergency and called upon the Armed Forces, the police, and his own Civilian Emergency Force. The calling-out powers contemplated under the Constitution is exclusive to the President. An exercise by another official, even if he is the local chief executive , is ultra vires, and may not be justified by the invocation of Section 465 of the Local Government Code [xxx]

” In fact, respondent governor has arrogated unto himself powers exceeding even the martial law powers of the President, because as the Constitution itself declared, “A state of martial law does not suspend the operation of the Constitution, nor supplant the functioning of the civil courts or legislative bodies, nor authorize the conferment of the jurisdiction on military courts and agencies over civilians where civil courts are able to function, nor automatically suspend the privilege of the writ.”

“The Constitution does not authorize the organization of private armed groups similar to the CEF (Civilian Emergency Force) convened by the respondent Governor. The framers of the Constitution were themselves wary of armed citizens’ groups [xxx] Thus with the discussions in the Constitutional Commission as guide, the creation of the Civilian Emergency Force (CEF), in the present case, is also invalid.

WHEREFORE,, the instant petition is GRANTED. Judgement is rendered commanding respondents to desist from further proceedings in implementing Proclamation No. 1 Series of 2009 and its Implementing Guidelines. The said proclamation and guidelines are hereby declared NULL and VOID for having been issued in grave abuse of discretion amounting to lack or excess of jurisdiction.

This Decision is clearly a vindication for our fellow human rights defender, Cocoy Tulawie, who is now detained at the Maa Davao City Jail for charges of allegedly masterminding an assassination plot against Governor Sakur Tan. Indeed, this trumped up charges are false, malicious and meant to silence Cocoy Tulawie and cripple his work as a human rights defender. Human rights workers like him are supposed to be protected instead of being “punished” and “criminalized” for daring to challenge the unbridled use of power by the Governor of Sulu. We call on the human rights defenders, friends and supporters of Cocoy Tulawie to remain steadfast in our solid stand against corruption, abuse of power and warlordism not only in Sulu but all over the country. Let us work hand in hand to reclaim the freedom of Cocoy Tulawie and for his immediate release from prison.

From the above cited Supreme Court Decision, we urge and challenge Secretary Jesse Robredo and ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman to immediately dismantle the thousands of Civilian Emergency Force (CEF) of Governor Sakur Tan for being illegal, unconstitutional, and invalid.

Having sworn his oath of allegiance to the President’s Liberal Party, Gov. Sakur Tan must prove himself to be worthy of the President’s matuwid na daan “policy including the earnest efforts to reform the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. As it stands now, his notorious human rights record definitely poses as the main obstacle to reform and good governance.

Respect human rights!

Dismantle Private Armies!

Free Cocoy Tulawie!

Sr. Maria Arnold Noel, SpPS
Task Force Detainees of the Philippines
Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates
Freedom from Debt Coalition
Balay Rehabilitation Center
Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society
Maranao Peoples Development Center
Mindanao Peoples Caucus
Initiatives for International Dialogue
Peacebuilders Community
Kilusan Para sa Pambasang Demokrasya
Alliance of Progressive Labor
Alternative Law Group
Concerned Citizens of Sulu
Lupah Sug Women
Muslim Law Students Association
Muslim Youth Movement
Federation of Muslim Students Association
Mindanao Human Rights Action Center
Learned Kagan Development Foundation
Alternate Forum for Research in Mindanao

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