SECURITY officials will on Monday apprise senators on the situation in Marawi City as lawmakers deliberate whether or not the chamber will review the report of President Rodrigo Duterte justifying the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon Jr. and Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Eduardo Año will brief senators on the military operations in Marawi where members of the Maute Group rampaged.
“We expect them (security officials) to come because they also want to explain to congress the reason behind the declaration,” Sen. Panfilo Lacson said.
“If they will not attend, then the Senate won’t have an idea on what is the actual situation in the area. We would just ask the lower house for a joint session to discuss the possible revocation of the declaration,” he said.
Lacson however noted that congress can move to revoke the declaration if the security officials failed to brief the lawmakers.
He pointed out that the declaration of martial law does not only involve the executive branch because the Constitution clearly states the roles of the legislature and the judiciary in the martial law process.
Lacson said they will discuss the President’s report today but he pointed out that holding a joint session is not mandatory. He explained that a joint session can only be convened if there is a move from the Senate or the House of Representatives to revoke the martial law proclamation.
While some senators had voiced the opinion that a joint session should be convened, Lacson said no formal motion was presented.
Members of the Senate majority bloc were to meet Sunday night to discuss the report of the President.
Even if Lacson has yet to read the President’s report and listen to the explanation of security officials, he is convinced that there was basis to declare martial law in Mindanao because there was an invasion by members of the Maute Group.
Section 18 Article VII of the 1987 constitution states that the President “in case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law.”
“There was an attack and reports of foreign nationals who were among those killed by the government forces,” he said.
“It was clear that group raised the Islamic state flag on areas and government facilities they have taken over and they killed soldiers and policemen and those are the requirements in the constitution to declare martial law,” he added.