Congress required to convene on martial law declaration — Constitution framer

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(CNN Philippines, May 28) — The 1987 Constitution mandates the two Houses of Congress to convene jointly to discuss the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, according to one of its framers.

Atty. Christian Monsod, a member of the 1986 Constitutional Commission, said both the House and Senate do not need to approve the proclamation, but maintained that the joint convening should still be done.

"The convening should still be done so that the issues can be debated and deliberated, so that those opposed to can be heard. The people have a right to know those for or against it and the reason for their vote," Monsod said in a text message Sunday.

He added that the purpose of the joint convening is not to approve martial law as it has already taken effect since the declaration on May 23.

On Thursday, House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Rudy Fariñas said they don't need to convene a joint session, which is only required if Congress will revoke the proclamation.

Fariñas said on Sunday, however, that both the Senate and the House of Representatives will hold separate closed-door meetings with government security officials and cabinet members on Monday and Wednesday next week.

"The position of each legislator, whether or not opposed to the proclamation of Martial Law, shall be expressed in the sessions of the HOR and the Senate when they separately consider the Report of the President. If either House finds that there is no need to revoke the martial law proclamation of the President, a Joint Session may not happen," he said in a statement.

Read more: Rep. Fariñas: No need for Congress to approve martial law

Lawmakers debate on joint session

Senators and congressmen are divided on whether the joint session is necessary to discuss issues related to the proclamation.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said Congress must not default on its constitutional duty, saying that the joint session is an opportunity to officially record Congress' members votes on the declaration.

"How can we get the exact sense of the majority of the lawmakers if we don't convene in a joint session? I hope the legislature is not taking the declaration of martial law lightly," Hontiveros said in a Fridaystatement.

Opposition congressman Edcel Lagman said the failure of Congress to conduct a joint session is disturbing.

"This is blatant dereliction of duty on the part of the leadership of the House and of the Senate," Lagman said.

Read more: Senator: Congress likely to back martial law in Mindanao

The Makabayan bloc also said they will question the martial law declaration when the proclamation and the Report of the President to Congress is taken up in the plenary on Monday.

"We received a lot of reports from the ground in the 6 provinces of Mindanao that are currently experiencing rights' abuses," according to Makabayan Rep. Ariel Casilao.

Casilao added that the seven-member bloc will move on Monday to hold a joint session, to give them an opportunity to revoke the declaration.

In a text message, Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto said he doubts either House of Congress will pass a resolution calling for a joint session to discuss the martial law proclamation.

"Consti is clear, we go into joint if we intend to revoke or extend (martial law). Waste of peoples money if we go joint just to talk?" Sotto said.

Sotto previously said the Senate will invite Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Año to its Monday caucus.