By Elena Aben
As he underscored the right of the people to be informed of matters of public interest, Senator Francis Pangilinan urged Congress leaders to rethink their position and convene the two chambers for a joint session to deliberate on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
Pangilinan made the call following pronouncements by leaders from both the Senate and the House of Representatives that Congress need not convene for a joint session over President Duterte’s martial law proclamation.
“With all due respect to our esteemed colleagues, Congress must hold a joint session on the declaration of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus — in a public and transparent manner and in an official proceeding,” said Pangilinan, president of the Liberal Party (LP).
The writ of habeas corpus, he explained, basically requires a person under arrest to be brought before a judge.
“This is used for people who believe they are unlawfully detained, and are thus questioning their arrest or detainment,” according to the senator.
In calling for the convening of the two chambers, Pangilinan said that if very sensitive matters may compromise the ongoing operations against the Maute group in Marawi City and also the safety of government forces, then they can go into an executive session.
“Granted, Article VII Section 18 of the constitution does not mandate Congress to approve these two extraordinary executive powers that affect the rights of millions of people. Yet, public accountability, transparency, and the right of our people to be informed of matters of public interest are all constitutional tenets, and thus form constitutional bases for the joint session,” Pangilinan pointed out.
“It is legally untenable that revoking the declaration and thereby sparing our citizens from the infringement of their rights must be done in a joint public session, while allowing it to remain uncontested with the rights of millions curtailed or diminished need not be done in an official proceeding,” he added.
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