Solon fears Congress may extend martial law on day of Sona
A member of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives on Sunday fears that Congress, dominated by administration allies, would extend martial law in Mindanao just before President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his State of the Nation Address (Sona).
In an interview with dzBB radio, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said it is “possible” that Congress on its first day of the second regular session may use the opportunity of the joint session to approve a resolution extending Duterte’s martial law.
According to the 1987 Constitution, Congress, upon the initiative of the President, “may extend such [martial law] proclamation or the suspension [of the writ of habeas corpus] for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
The President’s martial law is set to expire on July 22, before Duterte is expected to deliver his Sona on July 24. The Chief Executive said he has no plans of lifting martial law in the Mindanao region unless the military tells him to.
Even Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, Duterte’s bosom buddy in Congress, said he would be proposing to extend martial law until the end of President Duterte’s term.
Baguilat said the independent minority bloc, a petitioner in the martial law case, would still appeal the Supreme Court’s decision finding Duterte’s martial law proclamation valid, especially in the event Congress would jointly vote to extend martial law.
“Kung gusto nilang i-extend, maaaring hingin ng Pangulo na magkaroon ng extension. Then kung ang pasya ay sige, gawin na natin ‘yong joint session… then tamang-tama kasi sa Sona, sa July 24 ay meron kaming joint session. So maaaring mangyari ‘yon na bago ang Sona mismo ay maaaring ihain nila o ipresenta nila ‘yong resolution extending ‘yong martial law,” Baguilat said.
(If they want to extend it, the President may ask for an extension. Then if they decide to agree, let’s make it a joint session… it’s opportune because on the Sona on July 24, we will have a joint session. So it can happen before the Sona that they present their resolution extending martial law.)
“Dapat handa kami dun (We should be prepared for that),” he added.
Baguilat said the brief interval between the expiration of martial law and the President’s Sona is a strong indication the Sona would be the venue for the Congress extension of martial law.
In case Congress opts to hold a special session to extend martial law, it is possible that the extension would be raised during the day of the Sona, Baguilat said.
“If they really want na tuloy tuloy (continuous), [special session]. Otherwise, it could be possible na sa Sona na lang nila ihain ito (they’d present it during the Sona),” Baguilat said.
Baguilat said the independent minority bloc led by petitioner Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman would appeal the Supreme Court decision this week, insisting that there is no factual basis for the President to declare martial rule in the whole of Mindanao.
Baguilat said the bloc would have been satisfied had the Supreme Court decided to limit the martial law in Marawi City, where government troops are battling it out with Maute terrorists.
“We can live with that. Okay lang sa amin, masaya kami kung sakaling ni-limit lang ‘yong sakop nung martial law sa Lanao (we’d be okay with limiting the scope of martial law in Lanao),” Baguilat said. JE/rga
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