Congress might discuss martial law extension on SONA


THE lower house in Congress is likely to discuss the possible extension of martial law on the day Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte delivers his second State of the Nation Address (SONA), a member of the independent minority bloc in the House of Representatives said on Sunday, July 9.

In a radio interview, Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat Jr. said Congress, which is currently in recess, might tackle the possible martial law extension on July 24 — its first day of the second regular session.

“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. (If they want to extend it, the president may ask for an extension. Then, if they all agree, we’ll have a joint session… it’s an opportune because we’ll have a joint session on July 24),” Baguilat told Super Radyo dzBB.

On May 23, Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law for 60 days after the Islamic State (IS)-inspired Maute group attacked Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.

The 1987 Constitution states that “upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”

Duterte repeatedly said he’ll seek the extension of his martial law proclamation depending on the advice of the military and security officials. His Mindanao martial law declaration, under Proclamation 216, will mark its 60th day on July 22.

According to Baguilat, if lawmakers wanted a continuous implementation of martial law, the Congress should hold a special joint session before July 24.

“May puwang kasi…. But ‘yun nga, hindi pa kami in session e, naka-recess. So technically may isang araw. Kung balak nga na i-extend sa July 24, may isang araw na wala nang bisa ‘yung martial law (There’s a one day gap since we’re currently in recess. If they plan to extend it on July 24, martial law would not be in effect for one day),” he said.

“Otherwise, it could be possible na sa SONA na lang nila ihain ito (they’d present it during the SONA),” he added.

In a separate statement, Kabayan Rep. Harry Roque said Duterte might as well use the SONA as an opportunity to seek martial law extension, pointing out that there is no provision in the Constitution that prohibits him to do so.

Should the president wanted to “take advantage of the SONA in joint session,” Roque said Duterte  must “submit a report possibly before the 24th” of July.

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