Alvarez: Congress to convene joint session on martial law declaration

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 24) — House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said Congress will convene a joint session on President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Read: Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao

"We are mandated by the constitution para sundin yung proseso na narararapat [to follow due process]," Alvarez said in an interview Wednesday.

Under the 1987 Constitution, the declaration of martial law should be affirmed by Congress and should even be reviewed by the Supreme Court in an "appropriate proceeding filed by any citizen."

Alvarez said that Congress will still discuss when to convene as the executive branch has not yet submitted an official document on the declaration. The President has 48 hours to submit this report in writing.

Congress will also assess if the 60-day period mandated by the Constitution will be enough to address the crisis in Marawi City and other parts in Mindanao.

"Titignan natin kung mahaba o maiksi ang 60 days. Kung maiksi, I'm sure ito naman ay tatapusin din," Alvarez said.

[Translation: Let's see if 60 days is enough time. If it's more than enough, I'm sure (martial law) will be lifted.]

Congress then has the power to revoke the proclamation by a vote of at least a majority of all members of both the Senate and the House. Conversely, Congress can also — if requested by the President and if public safety requires it — extend the period of martial law beyond 60 days.

Alvarez also added that courts in Mindanao will continue to function normally despite the declaration.

"May mga safeguards ang ating Constitution. At in fact, pag binasa niyo yung provision, kahit may martial law, hindi ibig sabihin na suspended ang mga korte natin," Alvarez said.

[Translation: The Constitution has safeguards. In fact, if you read the provision in the Constitution, even if there is martial law, it does not mean our courts are suspended.]

Not a knee-jerk declaration

The House Speaker said the President's declaration of martial law is necessary to address the conflict in the island.

"Tama lang yung ginawa ng ating presidente sa aking pananaw, bilang isang taga-Mindanao ay talagang merong kaguluhan na nangyayari doon, at ito ay matagal na dinudusa ng ating bayan," Alvarez said.

[Translation: What the President did was right, in my opinion as a Mindanao native. There's conflict in the region, and the country has long been suffering because of it.]

Alvarez added that the declaration is not a knee-jerk reaction.

"'Yung nagsasabing knee-jerk 'yung reaction ay hindi sila maaring familiar doon sa terrain," he added.

[Translation: Whoever says this is a knee-jerk reaction is probably not familiar with the terrain.]

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Tuesday that although the current armed conflict was only confined in Marawi City, the President had decided to declare martial law all over Mindanao to address the other security issues in nearby areas like in Sulu, Zamboanga peninsula, Central Mindanao, and the Davao Region.

Related: Duterte on martial law: 'I'd be harsh'

CNN Philippines' Correspondent Isabella Montano contributed to this report.