17 senators endorse martial law; Palace grateful
Seventeen senators torpedoed moves by opposition stalwarts to convene a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives to block President Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao, saying there was “no compelling reason” to revoke it.
The 17 administration allies, led by Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, adopted on Tuesday night an amended resolution “expressing the sense of the Senate not to revoke, at this time, Proclamation No. 216, series of 2017, entitled ‘Declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao.’”
Entire majority bloc
The 17 senators who voted for amended resolution comprised the entire majority bloc while the five who voted against it were from the minority.
Senate Resolution No. 388 was amended on the floor, with the changes introduced by Sen. Francis Escudero, who along with Sen. Grace Poe, did not sign it earlier.
Escudero and Poe, who belong to the majority bloc, earlier said the Constitution did not require Congress to affirm the martial law proclamation.
This was why the amended resolution ditched the title of the original resolution that expressed the sense of the Senate, “supporting Proclamation No. 216, dated May 23, 2017, titled ‘Declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao’ and finding no cause to revoke it.’”
The resolution was changed to include the information that the senators were given a security briefing on Monday by defense and security officials on the “factual circumstances surrounding the proclamation as well as the updates in Mindanao.”
It also said the senators were convinced that the President proclaimed martial law in Mindanao because “actual rebellion exists and public safety requires it.”
The resolution also made it clear that the proclamation did not suspend the operation of the Constitution, “which among [other things], guarantee the respect for human rights and guard against any abuse or violation.”
Explaining the minority bloc’s vote against the resolution, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said it did not include a call for the holding of a joint session of Congress to tackle the martial law proclamation that the minority wanted, calling for it in their own resolution, Senate Resolution No. 390.
“We, however, support and laud the efforts of the men and women of our armed forces to suppress lawlessness in Marawi City,” Drilon said.
Malacañang welcomed the Senate majority’s support.
“The President has acted swiftly and decisively to suppress the ongoing rebellion in Marawi and to prevent its spread in the provinces of Mindanao,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
‘We can’t do it alone’
“However, the executive branch cannot do it alone. We need the cooperation of the entire government and the support of our people to finally flush out the evil forces, restore normalcy and bring peace to the island of Mindanao,” he said.
The original resolution was filed after the Senate majority met in a caucus on the eve of the security briefing for senators given by defense and security officials on Monday night.
“The acts committed by the Maute group are an open attempt to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine government the part of Mindanao and deprive the Chief Executive of its powers and prerogatives to enforce laws of the land, and maintain public order and safety in Mindanao, hence constitutes the crime of rebellion,” the original resolution said.
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