Solon calls for more sessions to discuss martial law extension

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July18) — Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat on Tuesday said some lawmakers are calling for more sessions to talk about the possible extension of martial law in Mindanao.

Speaking to CNN Philippines' Newsroom, Baguilat said Congress will need more time than the joint session on Saturday to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte's request for another 60 days  for the validity of Proclamation 216.  This proclamation declares martial law and suspends the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the entire Mindanao.

"We're asking if the session can be held earlier, Friday, Thursday, but before that there should be a presentation of the armed forces on the situation in Marawi,' Baguilat said.

Congress will discuss Duterte's proposal beginning at 9 a.m. on the day the proclamation's 60-day period expires.

On Wednesday, the military will brief the Senate on the situation in Mindanao. A similar briefing for the House of Representatives still has to be set.

READ: Sotto: Duterte asked for 60-day martial law extension

However, Baguilat said lawmakers need more sessions to convene and discuss the matter before the vote on Saturday.

"Kulang yung oras na talakayan [there's not enough time to discuss it] and this is a very critical issue, which is a very important issue which we need to discuss exhaustively first before making a decision," Baguilat said. "We are asking to have more time -- a session convened earlier than Saturday sana."

He explained that  it would be difficult for Congress to decide immediately on Saturday, after only a few hours of discussion. The opposition congressman expects the supercoalition supporting Duterte in the House to approve the president's request, but hopes there would be an extensive debate on the matter first.

Baguilat said legislators are also hoping for an exhaustive presentation from the military on how martial law has helped contain the security threat in Mindanao.

"We're open to discussing it for as long as they can justify that martial law indeed has been able to help in addressing the Maute threat," he said.

Senator Tito Sotto, meanwhile said President Rodrigo Duterte will submit today his letter requesting for a special session.

In a separate interview on CNN Philippines' New Day, he said Duterte had given them a "bird's eye view" of the situation in Mindanao, including possible security threats in Zamboanga and Jolo, which the President hopes to preempt with the 60-day extension of martial law.

He said he expects the majority of Senate members will also favor the extension of martial law following the Wednesday military briefing.

He noted, however, that the 22 votes from the senate votes may not carry as much weight when voting jointly with nearly 300 House Representatives.

"Well, I'm sure majority of the members of the senate after the security briefing on Wednesday would be favoring such. Although if we're going into a joint session, the vote of the senate will be immaterial. There are 250 congressmen," he said.