Rep. Fariñas: No need for Congress to approve martial law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — There's no need for Congress to convene a joint session to act on the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, a House leader said Thursday.

"If it (Congress) is in favor of the proclamation, it does not have to act, but nothing prevents either or both Houses from expressing support," House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas said in a text message.

Fariñas said martial law in Mindanao has been in effect when President Rodrigo Duterte issued Proclamation No. 216 on May 23 while on an official visit in Russia. He cut short his trip to attend to the terrorist crisis in Marawi City.

Under the Constitution, the President can proclaim martial law for not more than 60 days. But Congress may, on a joint vote, revoke the declaration which the President must follow.

"The Congress has to act only if it shall revoke such proclamation," he explained.

Farinas said though, nothing prevents either or both Houses from expressing support to the President’s proclamation.

"In fact, (House) members from Mindanao agreed to issue a Resolution of support to such proclamation," he said.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday in response to the Maute terror crisis in Marawi City, and insurgencies in Sulu, Basilan, and Zamboanga.

Read more: Duterte on martial law: 'I'd be harsh'

Congress awaits report

Fariñas said Congress is still waiting for Duterte's report explaining the basis of his declaration.

The report should be submitted not later than 10 p.m. of May 25, or when the 48-hour constitutional deadline expires.

Read more: House receives copy of martial law proclamation

Fariñas said he and Senate Majority Leader Tito Sotto agreed that the Executive will give a briefing on the martial law declaration to the Senate in the afternoon of Monday, May 29, and to the House of Representatives on Wednesday morning, May 31.

Fariñas said that the lower chamber will constitute a Committee of the Whole for the briefing.

However, the meeting will be an Executive Session as they are expected to discuss measures on national security.

Congress invited Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to the briefing, as well as the other members of the Cabinet including Acting Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade, Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo, and Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez.