Senate minority seeks joint session


    MEMBERS of the Senate minority bloc on Monday formally filed a resolution asking Congress to convene in a joint session and deliberate on the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao by President Rodrigo Duterte.

    The minority senators, led by Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon, in their Senate Resolution 390, called on the legislature to perform its “sacred duty and peremptory obligation” and hold a joint session.

    They cited Section 18, Article VII of the Constitution, which states, “Congress has the sacred duty and peremptory obligation to seek information surrounding and assess the factual basis for the proclamation and, if warranted, revoke the same.”

    The resolution was filed days after Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez downplayed the need for the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene in a joint session to discuss Proclamation 216 of the President.

    Leaders of Congress said there is no need to conduct a joint session if the majority of its members agreed with the declaration of martial law.

    But minority senators, in their SR 390, said there are four bases for the conduct of the joint session including the decision of the Supreme Court decision in Fortun v. Macapagal-Arroyo (March 20, 2012), which states that the President and Congress “act in tandem” in exercising the power to proclaim martial law or suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

    “They exercise the power, not only sequentially, but in a sense jointly since, after the President has initiated the proclamation or the suspension, only Congress can maintain the same based on its own evaluation of the situation on the ground, a power that the President does not have,” according to the Supreme Court decision.

    The minority senators cited the nation’s “painful experience with the imposition of martial law under the Marcos dictatorship.”

    Since the President exercises the most extensive of government powers as head of state, head of government and the Commander-in-Chief, the senators noted, his extra powers to declare martial law and suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus must strictly comply with the Constitution.

    They noted the constitutional provision on “transparency and accountability in government, respecting the right of the citizen to information of public interest, and the fundamental underlying principle of checks and balances among the separate branches of government.”

    The minority senators said a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives is needed to determine the constitutional and factual validity of the proclamation, and prevent abuses in its implementation and ensure the safety of the people of Marawi City and the whole of Mindanao.

    The minority bloc also filed a resolution supporting a request of detained senator Leila de Lima to vote on landmark pieces of legislation.


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