Senator Sherwin Gatchalian called on Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez to immediately convene the constituent chambers of Congress in a joint session to review President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
"I am calling on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to immediately convene the constituent chambers of Congress in a joint session to exercise the legislative duty under Art. VII, Sec. 18 of the 1987 Constitution to review Proclamation No. 216," he said in a statement issued on Thursday.
While he believes that Duterte had the best intentions in issuing Proclamation No. 216 which placed the entire Mindanao under martial law, Gatchalian said it "constitutionally mandated check-and-balance functions as soon as possible."
"The fact that this proclamation also includes the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, a power even more grave than the declaration of martial law itself, makes the timely exercise of this congressional power of review even more urgent," he said.
Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law on Tuesday evening, citing the projected arrival of ISIS in the country and the open defiance of lawless armed groups in Marawi City as "compelling reasons."
Under the 1987 Constitution, the President has 48 hours to report, in person or in writing, to the Congress, about such proclamation. In apparent reaction to the excesses of Marcos' martial law, the present Constitution provides for congressional and judicial processes to check the validity of the martial law declaration.
On Wednesday, Malacañang transmitted to Congress Duterte's official declaration of martial law in Mindanao (Proclamation No. 216).
Gatchalian highlighted the urgency of the discussion over the validity of martial law in Mindanao.
"Martial Law is already being implemented in Mindanao as we speak. Every day that passes is a lost opportunity for the members of Congress to fulfill our responsibility to safeguard the rights and welfare of our constituents," he said.
"Therefore, both houses of Congress must come together as soon as humanly possible to discuss Proclamation No. 216 and ensure that the government is using the most proper and effective means to restore peace, order, and security in Marawi City," he added. —Jessica Bartolome/KG, GMA News