Lawyers warn of Constitutional crisis if SC halts proclamation of new president

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 22 2022 06:24 PM

MANILA - A Constitutional crisis is possible if the Supreme Court halts the proclamation of the winner of the presidential race in response to the disqualification cases against presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., several lawyers said on Sunday.

The lawyers echoed the warning earlier aired by Senate President Vicente Sotto III who said the country may face a constitutional crisis if the petition to cancel Marcos Jr.'s candidacy prospers in the Supreme Court (SC).

“Nakalagay sa ating Constitution it is the sworn duty of Congress to canvass the votes for the President and Vice President. Ibig sabihin nito, both Houses of Congress- Senate and House of Representatives would have to meet in joint session… to open the certificates of Canvass and in public canvass the votes,” Atty. Clark Edward Uytico, a law lecturer, explained during the Balitaan sa Maynila webinar Sunday.

Uytico added, based on the Constitution, canvassing has to be done “within 30 days after the election”. 

The Constitution also mandates that the Congress “must adjourn 30 days before the start of the next regular session”, which is July 25 where the new president will hold his first State of the Nation Address.

“The proclamation of the President must be made before June 30— the Constitution provides that the term of the President must start on the noon of the 30th day of June... the term of the Senators and Congressmen will end also and will start on 30th June noontime. So ang present Congress natin will cease to exist. So if they don’t proclaim a president… then magkakaroon tayo ng grave violation of the Constitution,” Uytico said.

“In the history of the Philippines, wala pa tayong nagiging sitwasyon na ganito, no one has dared to challenge or go to the Supreme Court,” he added.

POSSIBLE SUPREME COURT DECISIONS

With these factors to consider, lawyers believe that the SC may dismiss the disqualification cases or rule that the matter is not within its jurisdiction.

“The way that I see it, it can either be dismissed by the Supreme Court for being moot and academic or the Supreme Court will rather rule that it is a political question that is out of the hands of the court,” Uytico said.

“Moot and academic na ito, kasi nagkaroon na tayo ng election. May 31 million people na ang bumoto kay Bongbong Marcos. Kapag io- open pa ang issue na ito, ano pa ang silbi nito eh binoto na siya ng tao,” criminal law and election law practitioner Atty. Eugene Pedro agreed.

Citing former President Joseph Estrada’s Supreme Court win allowing him to run for president for the second time, the SC may do the same thing.

“Since ganun ang naging takbo ng ruling ng Supreme Court, we do not see any reason kung bakit hindi magrurule ulit ang Supreme Court na moot and academic na yung issue considering nagkaroon na tayo ng election,” Pedro added.

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