No need for Congress to convene once martial law expires — solon
A minority lawmaker on Monday said there is no need for Congress to convene once martial law expires on July 23, especially because the proclamation remains valid unless revoked by Congress.
In a press conference, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said the declaration of martial law remains solely an executive power, and Congress under the Constitution can only vote to revoke it.
Since Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao to curb the Maute terror threat on May 23, and the allowed period for martial law unless extended by Congress is 60 days, martial law will expire on July 23.
But for the lawyer-turned-congressman, the reckoning time of martial law should exclude the first day of declaration and include the next day instead.
Roque cited Article 13 of the Civil Code which reads: “When the laws speak of years, months, days or nights, it shall be understood that years are of three hundred sixty-five days each; months, of thirty days; days, of twenty-four hours; and nights from sunset to sunrise.
“If months are designated by their name, they shall be computed by the number of days which they respectively have.
“In computing a period, the first day shall be excluded, and the last day included.”
“Ano ba mangyayari dahil in-impose niya martial law on 23rd and 60 days will expire on the 23rd dahil two months? According to the Civil Code, ang bilang kailan matapos ang 60 days declaration, i-exclude ‘yung unang araw at bibilaningin mo susunod na araw,” Roque said.
Even though the 1987 Constitution requires Congress to convene within 24 hours if not in session following the declaration of martial law, Roque believes Duterte’s martial law will expire just in time for the President’s State of the Nation Address on the 24th.
By then, the 17th Congress shall have convened itself for its second regular session, and thus there is no need for a special session, Roque said.
Roque said the President should request for an extension on July 24, just in time for his Sona, so there will be no vacuum in the martial rule implementation.
“Sa aking kwenta, kailangan magkaroon ka ng extension beginning 24th para walang vacuum ‘yung declaration ng martial law in Mindanao,” Roque said.
Roque said the President should comply with the constitutional requirement of reporting to Congress the need to extend martial law within 48 hours, days before the Sona to enable lawmakers to “digest” the report and decide whether or not to revoke it.
The martial law declaration also remains valid on the 61st day or even the 62nd unless Congress revokes it, Roque said.
Asked if martial law would remain valid in the brief period between July 22 and July 24, Roque said: “Yes, because no one else has the power to declare martial law.”
“The power to declare martial law… is exclusively an executive power. It’s always deemed valid unless otherwise revoked by Congress,” Roque added.
Roque rejected criticisms that Congress is a rubber stamp of the administration.
He said Congress even held a security briefing with Cabinet officials to decide for themselves the need for martial law in Mindanao.
“Ang trabaho namin is not to determine the validity. Ang trabaho namin is to revoke when we want to. But we’re not obliged to revoke,” Roque said.
“The continuing validity of martial law is based on the continuing factual basis. If we feel factual basis is no longer there, we can also revoke. Malinaw sa wordings ng Saligang Batas,” he added. JE/rga
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