The House of Representatives has constituted a Committee of the Whole that will meet on Wednesday, 9am to review the President’s declaration of Martial Law in the Mindanao group of Islands.

House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas, designated chairman of the committee of the whole, moved to convene the committee after meeting the Rules Committee to discuss the President’s report on the martial law declaration. “I move that the House be constituted into the committee of the whole  in order for the House to conduct the executive briefing with the various heads of agencies  in relation to Proclamation #216″

The convening the committee came after an ayes and nayes vote that was triggered by the objections of ACT Teachers’ Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio and Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman. Tinio and Lagman had both wanted to instead convene a joint session of Congress.

Lagman had argued that a committee of the whole which may be conducted in an executive session will deprive the public of the right to know, and the political opposition the right the examine the declaration. Lagman said a committee of the whole is not what is required by the constitution but a joint session. “this process of having a committee of the whole in executive session will deprive the public to know exactly what were the reasons why martial law was imposed and it will also deny the political opposition and the members of the supermajority  who are likeminded  the expose the merits, the factual validity of the imposition of martial law. “

Farinas however argued that an executive session maybe needed should the executive branch have to discuss operational details. ” we are a bicameral congress we convene separately. the senate alreday took up this measure and they met in executive session. why in executive session? because we will be listenting to the commanders on the ground, they will be briefing us where the enemies are what are their courses of action what are their kinds of action we cannot announce to the public. thats why initially we will have a committee of the whole so that everyone will hear. “

Farinas however said it will not necessarily be an executive session. ” we will listen first to them. when the testimony will be delicate then we will exclude  everybody.”

Farinas summoned Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre,

Agriculture Secretary emmanuel Pinol, DPWH Secretary Mark Villar, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello, DND Secretary Delfin  Lorenzana, DOH Secretary Paulyn Rosell  Ubial, DTI Secretary Ramon Lopez, DSWD Secretary Judy  Taguiwalo, OIC DILG Catalino Cuy, DOT Secretary Wanda Tulfo  Teo, DOTR Secretary Art Tugade, DOE Secretary Alfonso Cusi, DICT Secretary Rodolfo  Salalima and NSA Hermogenes Esperon from the Cabinet: ARMM Governor Mujiv Hataman and Court Administrator Midas Marquez and the Commission of Human Rights.

Opposition Congressmen slammed President Duterte’ statement that he will ignore Congressional and Judicial Review of his martial law declaration on Mindanao.

“Until the police and the Armed Forces say the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue. I will not listen to others. The Supreme Court, Congress, they are not here,” Duterte told soldiers on Saturday. “Are they the ones dying and losing blood, bleeding, hemorrhaging because there is no help, no reinforcement? It’s not they,” he said. “The Supreme Court will say they will examine into the factual (basis). Why I don’t know. They are not soldiers. They do not know what is happening on the ground,” Duterte also said.

Ifugao Rep. Teddy Baguilat said, “We must start calling him out on his true intentions. He wants to do away with congressional oversight and judicial review. Para steady lang sa pagiging diktador.

Why are they afraid of transparency? He’s asking the soldiers to violate their oaths. To believe in him even as he violate his oath when he became president.”

baguilat added. “A joint congressional session to discuss validity of the ML declaration and a Supreme Court review are constitutional guarantees to avoid possible abuses of ML.

Is the president saying that he’s willing to violate the Constitution? He is on his way to becoming a dictator. And it’s not true that we know nothing ha. We are representatives and we have our own sources of info on what’s happening on the ground. It’s therefore impt to validate d situation by having d sessions. And thus for Congress to give the constitutional mandate to the ML declaration.

As to the SC, the hearings nga would give the justices a clearer picture for their review.”

Akbayan Rep. Tom Villarin said, “If Pres Duterte is testing the limits of his powers, citizens must also test limits of our powers to hold this administration accountable including Congress. We all need to be brave. Joint session ang nasa Constitution na dapat public and transparent. Sa executive session hindi malalaman ng publiko. Bakit ayaw nila malaman ng taumbayan?”

Magdalo rep. Gary Alejano said ” The statement of President Duterte on defying the Supreme Court and Congress regarding the Martial Law is a blatant and outright violation of the Constitution. He may be the President, but he is not above the Law. No one is. This just elucidates his intention of violating the Constitution which he has been repeatedly committing since assuming office. Let me remind the President that though he has every intention to violate the Constitution, the AFP which is the main implemeter of Martial Law, has its mandate to uphold the Constitution and the Constitution alone. The AFP serves the people and the state and not the president.”

ACT teachers Party List Rep. Antonio Tinio said, “tawag diyan dictatorship at kung seryoso ito  malinaw na magiging diktador na si pangulong duterte isinantabi na ang konstitutusyon… nilabag na ang sinumpaang tungkulin niya bilang halal na presidnete balik na tayo sa diktadurya  kung seryoso ang ganitong pahayag”

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate,malinaw naman sa ating saligang batas na halimbawa pag  magdesisyon ang kongreso nirevoke ang deklarasyon ng ML di pwedeng ibasura ng presidente ang korte naman nakasaad sa ating saliigang batas na ang power to review the factual basis ay sa SC  i dont think pwede ito balewalain ng pangulong duterte dahil ito ay malinaw na atas ng konstitutsyon”

Zarate added that little by little its becoming obvious that there was no basis to declare martial law at all. “sa nakita natin merong enumeration doon ng mga activities specifically on may 23…nakita po natin na kungdi naman ang ibang na ang nacite na activities ay exaggerated iba outright falsity..meron modification sa dapat nireport na activities in fact  yung cinite mismo ni PRRD na may isang chief of police na pinugutan ng ulo 2 days thereafter  sianbi niya na buhay siya doon din sa usapin ng take over ng ospital sinabi naman  sa take over.. talagang inoccupy nila for several days doon sila  pero makikita natin yung  mga report mismo lumabas may dinalang sugatan pinagamot sa ospital.. doon din sa usapin ng inocupy at sinunog yung police stationn  ng marawi sinunog,  mayor mismo nagsabi na di naman inoccupy  at sinunod maraming lumalabas na rpeorts na kulang ang impromasyon at di natin kayang maverifiy malinaw dito na kung sinasbai na naoccupy at natke over  di maestablish sa report na ito kahit usapin ng kulungan, city jail ng marawi na inoccupy…di naoccupy”

Makabayan will move to call a joint session of Congress to review the declaration of martial law.

BUHAY Partylist Representative and Senior Deputy Minority Leader Lito Atienza reminded President Rodrigo Duterte to adhere to the Constitutional provisions on the declaration of Martial Law. “It is very bothersome to hear the President announce that he will not listen to the Supreme Court and Congress as to when martial law in Mindanao will be lifted.  The declaration of martial law under the present Constitution has to be affirmed by Congress sitting as one, within 48 hours after the President declares such and the President has to justify his declaration before Congress either in person or in writing.  The declaration of martial law in Mindanao is subject to review and is limited to 60 days unless extended by Congress.  If he plans to extend it beyond 60 days, he should let Congress know about it,” Atienza said.

“We were one of the first to express support for the President’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao since he is the only one in possession of the complete data and intelligence reports on exactly how serious this problem is.  But we must emphasize adherence to the rule of law and the Constitutional provisions on this crucial issue.  No President should ever be quoted as saying that he will not listen to Congress and the Supreme Court.  This is provided for in the 1987 Constitution precisely to avoid a repeat of the abuses of the 1972 martial law.” Atienza added.

Duterte ally, Ako Bicol Rep. Rodel Batocabe for his part defends the President. “I think the president is merely referring solely to the marawi conflict.  What the president is emphasizing is the  fact that we in congress , and the  supreme court have no competence and business telling him what to do  and how to deal with the rebellion, which is purely a security matter . Of. Ourse, even us in congress and the suprem court will have to rely on the military and our national security experts if we are to make A factual determination  if there is arebellion, warranting its imposition and even its extension. Certainly, we can not rely armchair analysts or critics who arenot on the ground. Finally, the president istrying to boost the morale of our military by underscoring their importance inthese operations. Ang gusto lang nuyang sabihin kaya nyang ipaglaban ang mga opinyon ng militar laban sa mga opinyon ng mga politiko at  mga hukom. Remember the president is a lawyer and he knows his law. What he did was a political stirring speech just like a call to arms”

Kabayan Party List Rep. Harry Roque attempted to explain the President’s remarks. “”tingin ko naman ang sinasabi ni Presidente ay ang Militar bec they are on the ground they know the facts.. alam nila kung kinakailangan ba talaga ang martial law given the ongoing fighting. tingin ko naman bagamat inaccurate yung sinabi ng Presidente na under no circumstance sya makikinig sa kongreso ay saligang batas na ang nagsabi na hindi niya pwedeng isantabi ang revocation tama rin ang sinasabi niya na politicians and supreme court justices dont know what is happening on the ground. “

Roque inistsed the President cant ignore congress.”depende kung ano  asabihin ng kongreso. kapag nirevoke ng kongreso ang martial law hindi pwedeng isantabi ng Presidente yun. “

For Roque, The President was just exercising a bit of political hyperbole. “i have learned to distinguish hyperbole and exaggerations from being national policies. i refuse to belief that policies can contravene a constitution. we have to construe his statement in accordance to the constitution and i think his staement is limited to all other circumstances other than yung decision ng kongreso to revoke it. “

Roque insists there are safeguards against dictatorships. “talaga namang ang saligang batas hindi magbibigay ng proteksyon kung hindi kinakailangan, sa akin kaya naman ang saligang batas ay mayroong safeguards laban sa diktaturya. kasi sa kasaysayan natin kung walang safeguards magkakaroon ng diktaturya. pero i doubt given the safeguards kung mangyayari pa ito not when congress remains functioning, not when the courts remain open to the public.”

Davao del Norte 2nd District Rep. Antonio Floirendo Jr also tried to rally support for the President. ” As a Mlndanaon, I believe that President Duterte’s leadership is what ls needed to bring peace and security in the region, His declaration ls compliant with the requirements of the Constitution and his adoption of sucH constitutional remedy ls the appropriate and effective response In crushing the rebellion staged by the Maute Group in conspiracy with other terrorist groups that not only imperils the teritorlal Integrity of the Republic In Mindanao but endangers the public safety of Minadanaons. appeal to the other members of Congress and the peace and

democratic loving Filipinos to give their support to President Duterte’s relentless

fight against ISIS Inspired terrorists.”

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez for his part maintained that the House will review the President’s  declaration. Speaking to radio DZMM, Alvarez said, “nagpatawag kami ng meeting sa Wednesday, kasama yata dito yung Executive Secretary, yung DILG secretary, yung DND at saka yung ating Chief of Staff, saka ibang Gabinete pa, doon ito sa House of Representatives kung saan ay tatanungin sila ng mga miyembro ng Kamara. Hindi po today, kasi ang alam ko ang Senado yata ang nag-request na today, sila yung magpapatawag noong mga people from the Executive branch.”

The Speaker said the Leadership will decide if the meeting of the Committee of the Whole o Wednesday will be done in executive session. The Speaker However maintained that the House will only put the matter to a vote if there will be a motion to revoke.” Malamang ganoon Ted, ano? Pero kasi, kung basahin natin yung provision ng Constitution, ang malinaw na malinaw doon na nakalagay, na, yun nga, yung Presidente within 48 hours from declaration shall submit a report in person or in writing to Congress. Ngayon po, ang Kongreso naman, sinasabi po ng provision ng Constitution na yung Congress, voting jointly, may revoke the proclamation. May revoke the proclamation, hindi po sinasabi na kailangan naming aprubahan.”

Alvarez says that is when a joint session maybe called.” So kung kailangan lang namin i-revoke, puwede kaming magpatawag ng joint session. It could be, Ted, pagbobotohan namin sa mayorya kung kailangan naming magpatawag ng joint session, tapos kokonsultahin din namin yun Senado kung ok sila na mag-joint session. “

Alvarez however this early already accepts the Palace’s justification. “Klarong-klaro Ted, wala akong doubt. Talagang whole na iyan, bilang taga-Mindanao na rin, I think talagang justified yung declaration ng martial law.”

Alvarez however clarified that any expansion of martial law will have to be covrered by a separate declaration.” Kasi Ted, that would be a separate declaration, so saklaw pa rin iyan doon sa provision ng Constitution na binibigay na kapangyarihan sa Pangulo ng Pilipinas. Ngayon, mag-aapply pa rin yung ano, na yung Kongreso nga, kung sa tingin namin ay hindi tama, ay puwede naming i-revoke yung proclamation na yun.”