The Daily Manila Shimbun


Congress need not sit down immediately to discuss martial law proclamation:Alvarez

May 25, 2017

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said it is not necessary for Congress to conduct a session to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s proclamation placing Mindanao under martial law, a statement from the House of Representatives said Thursday. Around 10:26 p.m. Wednesday night, the office of Alvarez received from Malacañang a copy of Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216, declaring a state of martial law and suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao. He said the House would likely tackle the martial law proclamation in its session next week. Alvarez  said an agreement was reached among lawmakers, particularly those from Mindanao, to allow them to go to their respective districts to get first-hand information on the situation and provide assistance to their constituents. Alvarez said the public should not be alarmed over possible abuses because it is clear that despite the declaration of martial law, the Constitution remains in effect, and that  the courts as well as civilian authorities continue to function. In a radio interview, Alvarez said the House leadership met Wednesday in anticipation of the submission of Malacañang’s report on the declaration of martial law. Under the Constitution, the president has 48 hours from the time of the declaration of martial law to submit a report to Congress, whether in person or in writing. “If the president reports personally, we have to convene Congress so we can receive and listen to his report. But if this is to be done in writing, it’s not necessary for us to convene immediately unless our members decide we have to do it so we can discuss the president’s report,” explained Alvarez. Alvarez said he is flying to Davao for a meeting with Duterte. According to Alvarez the proclamation of martial law would be in effect for a period of 60 days unless Congress decides to either shorten or extend it. Alvarez said there is nothing in the Constitution that requires Congress to sit down immediately after the president has submitted his report on the declaration of martial law. He said while the violence erupted only in Marawi City it is necessary to place the entire Mindanao under martial law to allow authorities to pursue terrorists who would likely flee to adjacent areas. Alvarez clarified that the martial law declaration is not only directed against Muslim terrorists. :We are not singling out terrorists who believe in Islam. All terrorists are included here. It is not only the Maute Group, the Abu Sayyaf but all those espousing terrorism in Mindanao,” said Alvarez. DMS