Political Law

Roque Gumaua vs Maj. Gen. Romeo Espino

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G.R. No. L-36188 – 96 SCRA 402 – Political Law – Martial Law as Valid Declaration – Military Courts – Constitutional Allowance

In 1972, a Chinaman was kidnapped by allegedly the group of a certain Sgt. Cordova. Gumaua, an ex-PC aided Cordova as he even sheltered them in his sari-sari store. After surveillance, Gumaua’s house was raided and he was arrested. Since martial law is being imposed at that time, Gumaua was held under the custody and trial of the military court [No. 2]. Gumaua then petitioned for prohibition and mandamus with restraining order and preliminary injunction against Major General Romeo Espino as Chief of Staff of the AFP and Military Commission No. 2, challenging the validity of the creation and jurisdiction over him as a civilian of respondent Military Commission No. 2. He filed for habeas corpus and averred that (a) military tribunals cannot try civilians if civil courts are open; (b) the President cannot deprive the civil courts of their jurisdiction to try criminal cases involving civilians; (c) as a civilian, he is entitled even during Martial Law to his constitutional right to counsel during the preliminary investigation, to be subject to the jurisdiction of the courts only upon his arrest or voluntary submission.

ISSUE: Whether or not Gumaua can be validly tried before the military court.

HELD: The SC first and foremost affirmed that the declaration of martial law is valid. The 1973 Constitution has been validly ratified by the sovereign people and is now in full force and effect. Proclamation No. 1081 placing the entire country under martial law is valid. That the proclamation of martial law automatically suspends the privileges of the writ of habeas corpus. That the President of the Philippines, “as Commander-in-Chief and as enforcer or administrator of martial law, . . . can promulgate proclamations, orders and decrees during the period of martial law essential to the security and preservation of the Republic, to the defense of the political and social liberties of the people, and to the institution of reforms to prevent the resurgence of rebellion or insurrection or secession or the threat thereof as well as to meet the impact of a worldwide recession, inflation or economic crisis which presently threatens all nations including highly developed countries . . .” . That the President of the Philippines, as legislator during the period of martial law, can legally create military commissions or courts martial to try, not only members of the armed forces, but also civilian offenders, for specified offenses including kidnapping.

And finally, there is likewise ample proof that Sgt. Aguinaldo Cordova and Sgt. Barbelonio Casipi, co-accused of petitioners in the kidnapping charge, belonged to the armed forces at the time of the commission of the crime, in much the same way that the evidence demonstrates that petitioner Gumaua himself is a retired PC non-commissioned officer. Consequently, the trial of petitioners Gumaua and Halasan before the respondent Military Commission No. 2, along with the two other accused who are members of the Armed Forces is valid under General Orders Nos. 8.


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