Congress needs to hold a joint session because the reasons given by President Rodrigo Duterte in his report to the legislature justifying his decision to place Mindanao under martial law were not enough, opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros said on Friday.
According to the senator, the reasons enumerated by President Duterte were shallow and unresponsive.
The President, Hontiveros said, failed to convince her that the declaration and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus were appropriate and proportional responses to the threat of the Maute Group that attacked Marawi City on Friday.
She added that the Duterte report was only limited to incidents in Marawi City and Lanao del Sur, giving her more reasons to doubt the need for the declaration and the suspension
Hontiveros said the President mobilizing the Armed Forces is enough to address “lawless violence, invasion and rebellion.”
She called on Congress to convene its members to discuss the report to decide on whether to revoke it.
“With all due respect to the leaders of the two chambers of the legislature, but how can we get the exact sense of the majority of the lawmakers if we don’t convene in a joint session? I hope the legislature is not taking the declaration of martial law lightly,” Hontiveros said.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez both said there is no need for a joint session if the majority of its members agree with the declaration of martial law.
Hontiveros, however, said the Constitution does not say that convening a joint session on the declaration of martial law is optional.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan, Liberal Party president, said Congress must hold a joint session on the declaration in a public and transparent manner and in an official proceeding.
Pangilinan added that Congress could go into executive session to prevent sensitive matters that may compromise ongoing military operations and safety of security forces from being discussed in public.
While, Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution does not mandate Congress to approve these two extraordinary executive powers, he said, public accountability, transparency and the right of the people to be informed of matters of public interest are all constitutional tenets, and thus form constitutional bases for the joint session.