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Due to the throwing of two hand grenades at a Liberal Party caucus in 1971 causing the death of eight people, the president Marcos issued Proclamation No. 889 which suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. Marcos urged that there is a need to curtail the growth of Maoist groups. Subsequently, Teodosio Lansang et al were invited by Brigadier General Eduardo Garcia of the Philippine Constabulary at Camp Crame for interrogation and investigation. After the interrogation, Lansang et al were arrested without warrant. Garcia invoked Proclamation No. 889. Lansang et al questioned the validity of the suspension of the writ averring that the suspension does not meet the constitutional requisites.
ISSUE: Whether or not the suspension of the writ is constitutional.
HELD: The long-standing doctrine held in Barcelon and Montenegro was subsequently abandoned in this case where the SC declared that it had the power to inquire into the factual basis of the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus by the president. To be recalled, the case of Barcelon and Montenegro provide that the judiciary may not inquire upon the factual basis of the President’s suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus as the same is a political question – the president, with all the intel he has, is in a better position to determine whether or not there exists a ground to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Thus, this is one instant when the Supreme Court becomes a trier of facts. Accordingly, hearings were conducted to receive evidence on the question whether or not Proclamation No. 889 was issued with factual basis, including two closed-door sessions in which relevant classified information was divulged by the government to the members of the Supreme Court and 3 selected lawyers of the petitioners. In the end, after satisfying itself that there was actually a massive and systematic Communist-oriented campaign to overthrow the government by force, as claimed by Marcos, the SC unanimously decided to uphold the suspension of the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.