House, Senate may convene on Dec. 8 to discuss martial law proclamation — Nograles

December 6, 2009 1:43 am 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, Dec. 5 — Speaker Prospero Nograles said on Saturday the House of Representatives and the Senate may convene jointly on December 8 to discuss the report which will be submitted to Congress by Malacanang regarding the imposition of martial law in Maguindanao province.

"Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and I may call for a joint session of Congress on Tuesday to discuss the written report which we will receive from the President (Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo) regarding her reasons for Proclamation 1959," said Nograles in a text message.

The Speaker earlier said the convening of both Chambers of Congress "do not indicate any majority numbers with any intention to revoke the proclamation (of martial law by the President), which is only good for 60 days."

"Both Houses of Congress will convene in joint session only for purposes of revoking but not for approving," he said.

The Liberal Party (LP), however, slammed the Speaker for making the House of Representatives a "rubber stamp Congress" by saying that they do not need to convene in joint session to discuss the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao.

LP spokesman Atty. Edwin Lacierda said it would be in violation of the law if Congress would not convene jointly following the declaration.

The Constitution states that "Within 48 hours from the proclamation of martial law or the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the President shall submit a report in person or in writing to the Congress."

"The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President. Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it," it added.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel Jr. earlier said there's a need for the immediate convening of Congress to act on the government’s martial law declaration in Maguindanao supposedly to address the deteriorating peace and order situation in the province.

"The Senate and the House should meet today or tomorrow, the latest on Monday, to discuss the validity, duration and procedure of the martial law declaration," said Pimentel.

For his part, Senator Francis "Chiz" Escudero urged the Senate and the House to jointly monitor and look into the developments in Maguindanao to determine if the declaration of martial law was necessary or an "overkill."

He also reminded the military commanders in the area to ensure that human rights would be respected and to check any abuses.

On the other hand, Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said he believes that the declaration of martial law in Maguindanao was of "dubious legality."

Pimentel, however, said that under the law, the government may declare martial law if there was "imminent danger to the public safety or if there was immediate possibility of rebellion happening in the area."

Justice Secretary Agnes Devanadera, in a television interview, said the DOJ "noticed and observed there was a rebellion in the offing" in Maguindanao.

"The local governments in the whole of Maguindanao had been removed from the legitimate authorities. Some of these local government units… had closed down. They ceased to render government services and there was a massing of heavily armed men… it was practically an overthrow of government," said Devanadera, citing the reasons for the imposition of martial law in the province. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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