Benigno Aquino Jr. vs Military Commission No. 2, Chief of Staff, Chief Justice et al

G.R. No. L-37364 – 63 SCRA 546 – Political Law – Martial Law – Open Court Theory – Military Courts

In September 1972, after the declaration of Martial Law, Ninoy was arrested and was placed under custody. He was brought to Fort Bonifacio, a military camp. He filed for the issuance of the Writ of Habeas Corpus which was denied by the SC. Ninoy then questioned the validity of the denial as well as the declaration of martial law; at the same time he questioned the authority of the military court [No. 2] created [pursuant to GO 2-A] to try him and his other companions. He was being charged for illegal possession of firearms, ammunition and explosives. He was also being charged for violation of the Anti-Subversion Act and for murder. All were filed before the military court. Ninoy argued that the military court has no jurisdiction for civilian courts are still operational.

ISSUE: Whether or not Ninoy can be validly charged before the military court.

HELD: The SC upheld the power of the president to create military tribunals or military courts which are authorized to try not only military personnel but also civilians even at that time civil courts were open and functioning. The SC basically rejected the “open court” theory observed in the USA.