FORMER Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. is convinced President Rodrigo Duterte has basis for declaring martial law but insisted that Congress should convene a joint session to deliberate on the matter. His position contradicts that of his son and namesake, Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel 3rd, who did not find it necessary to call for a joint Congress session.
The older Pimentel said Duterte has access to information that most people don’t have, but admitted that placing the entire Mindanao under martial law was somewhat unnecessary.
“And that is why he is obligated to report to Congress and Congress being the representatives of the people should tell the people what happened,” the former lawmaker said in an interview.
“Congress is the representative of the people and under the Constitution, it is required that they should have a joint session, joint discussion and joint deliberation,” Pimentel said following the necrological service for the late former senator Eva Estrada-Kalaw on Thursday.
Pimentel also pointed out that even if there were no intentions to revoke the President’s martial law Proclamation 216 issued on May 23, Congress must report to the people regarding military rule.
The President is required to report to Congress within 48 hours after the declaration of martial law, after which the Senate and the House of Representatives must convene or hold a special session if it is on a break, to tackle the declaration.
“That’s what they are supposed to do,” Pimentel said.
Pimentel’s interpretation of the martial law provision of the Constitution is different from that of his son, Koko, who said last week Congress need not convene in joint session if there was no intention to revoke the declaration.
The younger Pimentel was one of 12 senators who voted to reject Senate Resolution 390 asking Congress to convene in a joint session and deliberate on the declaration of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
The older Pimentel said it was not too late for Congress to hold a joint session.
“That’s why I’m saying that people should speak out, we are a democracy. We should not just accept what they want to do, if they are wrong, we should tell them that,” he said.
Supreme Court option
Former senator Rene Saguisag in a separate interview said talks regarding the filing of a petition questioning the basis of martial law before the Supreme Court were ongoing.
Saguisag is part of a lawyers’ group called Artikulo Tres that is planning to bring the issue before the high tribunal.
But there is some hesitation because the declaration would only last for 60 days or shorter, depending on the situation in Marawi City, he said.
The petition might be declared moot and academic by the Supreme Court the moment martial law is lifted, he pointed out.
Saguisag said Congress should have raised serious questions regarding Duterte’s declaration of martial law.
“There are only a few voices in Congress especially in the House of Representatives. The attitude of the speaker, Bebot (Pantaleon) Alvarez, is that when Digong (Duterte) tells him to jump, he would say: ‘From what floor sir?” he said.
Important questions such as “Was there an invasion? Who are the invaders? Was there a rebellion?” were not asked, Saguisag said.
“It is saddening that something like this should have been debated in the Cabinet, debated in the House, debated in the Senate, but there was none,” he added.