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Senators' take on martial law declaration 'deemed irrelevant' in joint voting —Lacson

Senator Panfilo Lacson on Wednesday pointed out that the individual vote of senators on the declaration of martial law is “deemed irrelevant” even if they come out with a common stand on the issue.

In a text message to reporters, Lacson said he suggested holding an all-senators caucus to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

“I am actually suggesting that the Senate hold an all senators caucus to discuss our common stand on the issue, if at all we can arrive at a common stand,” Lacson said.

“It goes without saying though that by sheer numbers alone, we are deemed irrelevant in this regard. 24 senators can’t outvote 292 congressmen,” he pointed out.

Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution states that the President should submit a report in person or in writing to Congress within 48 hours from the proclamation of martial law.

Congress may revoke the proclamation “voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its members in regular or special session.”

On Tuesday night (Manila time), Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao while he was on official visit in Russia. The declaration came following the attacks in Marawi City.

Duterte also decided to cut short his trip and proceed back to Manila. He will arrive along with his delegation Wednesday afternoon.

Both houses of Congress are still awaiting the President’s report on his martial law declaration.

Meanwhile, Senator Francis “Chiz” Escudero assured that he will vote “with only the best interests of our country and people in mind.”

Senator JV Ejercito also said the same, adding that his decision will be based on the “welfare and interest” of Mindanaoans and the people of the Philippines.

“It is time for government forces to put an end to the violence that has prevented Mindanao from achieving the progress its people deserves,” Ejercito said.

Senator Miguel Zubiri, an ally of Duterte, called on the public to rally behind the President, saying it is a “time for unity and courage.”

“As a Senator from Mindanao, I understand the President’s frustration in dealing with armed groups across all regions.  We should take this as a chance to finally disarm them and deal with sympathizers from the LGUs coddling these terrorists,” Zubiri said. —KG, GMA News