MANILA: The House of Representatives on Wednesday convened as a Committee of the Whole to tackle President Rodrigo Duterte’s report on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
The Committee of the Whole chaired by Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas convened at the plenary hall at 9 a.m. with 135 House members responding to the roll call.
In his opening speech, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez cited the need for a “strategic and decisive response” to the grave threats posed by terror groups including the Mautes that have “rampaged” Marawi City and the rest of Southern Philippines.
“We have to do this, not only because the dangers we face have devastated the lives of thousands. We have to do this, not only because these threats can easily spill over and engulf the rest of the nation in flames. We have to do this, because it is the right thing to do,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez said President Duterte’s martial law declaration should not be viewed “exclusively from the perspective of the past”, noting that the 1987 Constitution has safeguards to prevent a repeat of martial law abuses that happened during the regime of late President Ferdinand Marcos.
”Our present Constitution provides sufficient safeguards to prevent abuses by agents of the State.
Moreover, we give the public our assurance that we are keeping a watchful eye upon the unfolding of events and will step in as a counter-balance should and when the need arises,” Alvarez said.
Alvarez also called on his colleagues to extend a helping hand to President Duterte to aid him in crushing these terror groups.
”Colleagues, let us extend to the President the aid which he needs. Let us also do our part and legislate lasting solutions to the problems we face. We owe this to the people of Marawi City. We owe this to the people of Mindanao. We owe this to the people of the Philippines,” the Speaker said.
Among those invited to appear before the House include Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon, and other Cabinet officials.
The Committee of the Whole functions as a regular committee acting upon a bill or resolution with its membership composed of all the House members.
As of press time, the Committee of the Whole is conducting an executive session to discuss the President’s report. PNA