15 out of 23 senators support martial law declaration in Mindanao

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 30) — Majority of the senators have expressed support for President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Fifteen out of the 23 senators, in Senate Resolution No. 388 signed on Monday, said the declaration of martial law in the southern Philippines is "satisfactory, constitutional, and in accordance with the law."

"The Senate hereby supports fully Proclamation No. 216 and finds no compelling reason to revoke the same," said the resolution, a copy of which was obtained on Tuesday.

Proclamation No. 216 refers to President Duterte's declaration of military rule in Mindanao on May 23, when the Maute terror group laid siege to the city of Marawi, the capital of the province of Lanao del Sur.

The 15 senators who signified support are Senate President Koko Pimentel, Senators  Vicente Sotto III, Ralph Recto, Sonny Angara, Nancy Binay, JV Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, Richard Gordon, Gringo Honasan, Panfilo "Ping" Lacson, Loren Legarda, Manny Pacquiao, Joel Villanueva, Cynthia Villar, and Juan Miguel Zubiri.

Senators Grace Poe, Francis Escudero, and senators from the minority bloc — Liberal Party President Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan, Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Leila De Lima, Risa Hontiveros, and Antonio Trillanes IV — did not sign the document.

Hontiveros said the minority bloc will push the joint Congressional session.

 

Escudero said he did not sign the resolution because he was not given a copy. He added the resolution is "superfluous" because the 1987 Constitution does not require it.

"The issue is not whether or not Congress will confirm ML but whether or not Congress will revoke it. I would have voted against revocation at this time in a joint session once a member of Congress files a motion to so revoke," Escudero said.

Poe said she will not object to martial law if it will be the "pathway to ensuring the safety" of Maranaos. But she said the Constitution does not require Congress or the Senate to issue a resolution supporting martial law.

"More than issue a resolution on the collective consensus of where Congress stands, it is our responsibility as lawmakers to put forward our individual manifestations for or against the imposition of martial law, in order for students of history to be able to fully understand and appreciate our individual take on this matter," she said in a statement.

Palace thanks senators

Malacañang welcomed the support of the 15 senators.

"We thank the Senate for its resolution expressing support to the President's declaration of martial law in Mindanao. The President has acted swiftly and decisively to suppress the ongoing rebellion," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement on Tuesday.

But he admits the executive branch cannot do it alone.

"We need the cooperation of the entire government and the support of our people to finally flush out the evil forces, restore normalcy, and bring peace to the island of Mindanao," Abella said.

Officials brief Senators on Marawi situation

Top security officials Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon met senators in a closed-door session on Monday to explain the reasons why the President declared martial law, and to brief them of the situation in Marawi City and Mindanao.

Related: Top security officials explain Marawi situation to senators

Esperon said that the region faced armed threats from various fronts — bandit groups, communist rebels, and even drug syndicates.

A report signed by Duterte and received by Senate President Koko Pimentel and House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on May 24 said the attempt of terror group Maute to take control of Mindanao beginning with Marawi City to establish an ISIS presence forced him to declare martial law in the region.

"The events commencing on 23 May 2017 put on public display the groups' clear intention to establish an Islamic state and their capability to deprive the duly constituted authorities — the President foremost — of their powers and prerogatives," the report said.

READ: Duterte's martial law report

Despite the support of the senate, opposition lawmakers are exerting means to revoke the declaration of martial law.

Senators from the minority bloc, namely Pangilinan, Drilon, Hontiveros, Aquino, and Trillanes filed on Monday a resolution to convene Congress in a joint session and discuss the declaration and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

The Senate has until Wednesday when it ends its regular session.