Senator Risa Hontiveros on Saturday insisted the need for a joint session to discuss the report of President Rodrigo Duterte on his martial law declaration in Mindanao following the Maute group's attack in Marawi City.
"The legislature has the constitutional duty to scrutinize the report of the President on the declaration of martial law before a joint session. We have the duty to evaluate if the declaration has basis or not. Even if the declaration seems to have the support of the majority of our lawmakers, the constitution mandates us to listen to all voices, particularly those who raise legitimate concerns over the implementation of this proclamation," Hontiveros said in a statement.
Senate President Aquilino "Koko" Pimentel earlier said Congress only needs to convene jointly if it intends to revoke or limit the President’s order while House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez expressed support for Duterte's declaration.
House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas had said that the House and the Senate only need to convene if the submission is made by the President to Congress himself.
Hontiveros called on the lawmakers to not take the issue "lightly."
"With all due respect to the leaders of the two chambers of the legislature, but how can we get the exact sense of the majority of the lawmakers if we don't convene in a joint session? I hope the legislature is not taking the declaration of martial law lightly," Hontiveros added.
Hontiveros said that there are no provisions in the 1987 Constitution that say a joint session on martial law declaration is optional.
She also said the a joint session could be an opportunity for lawmakers to show the public where they stand on the current issues.
"The people deserve to know where their lawmakers stand on this important matter. If they believe that they stand on the right side of history, I don't see why Congress can't convene a joint session," Hontiveros said.
Malacañang submitted on Thursday night to Congress the official report on Duterte’s decision to declare martial law in Mindanao.
Duterte placed the whole of Mindanao under martial law at 10 p.m. Tuesday following reported attacks of the Maute group in Marawi City.
The local terror group torched several structures in the city, including schools and a Catholic church, during the attack. Several people were also killed and kidnapped by the Maute group members. —Anna Felicia Bajo/ALG, GMA News