MANILA—Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas on Wednesday advised members of the House of Representatives to “stay put in Manila” in anticipation of President Rodrigo Duterte’s report on his declaration of martial law in Mindanao.
“All members are advised to stay put in Manila. Under our Rules, our sessions are until Friday. The President will head back home ASAP (the party is now at the Moscow airport) and we may have session as soon as we receive his official report,” Fariñas said in a text message to all House members.
Citing the 1987 Constitution, Fariñas said the President is mandated to submit a report, whether in person or in writing, to Congress within 48 hours from the proclamation of martial law.
“We will have to wait for the report of the President in order for us to exercise our constitutional duty on the matter,” Fariñas said.
The constitutional provision allows Congress to revoke such provision in a majority vote of its members.
“The Congress, voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its Members in regular or special session, may revoke such proclamation or suspension, which revocation shall not be set aside by the President,” the Constitution read.
“Upon the initiative of the President, the Congress in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it,” it added.
Meanwhile, Fariñas called on the public to “remain calm and to keep safe” amid the martial law declaration in Mindanao.
The House leader said he and Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez will meet with police and military officials for a briefing on the security situation in Marawi City, Lanao Del Sur.
President Duterte declared the entire Mindanao island under martial law following clashes between government troops and members of the Maute group in Marawi City.
The development also prompted Duterte to cut short his official visit to Moscow and fly back home at the soonest.
The violence started Tuesday afternoon after the military conducted operations to flush out Isnilon Hapilon, a top terrorist suspect, from his hideout in Marawi City.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that two soldiers and one police officer were killed, while 12 others were wounded in the ongoing clashes.
Several facilities were also torched by the terror group including St. Mary’s Church, the city jail, the Ninoy Aquino School, and Dansalan College.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the declaration of martial law was necessary to suppress terrorist groups from wreaking further havoc in Southern Philippines.
“In order to suppress lawless violence and rebellion and for public safety, it is necessary to declare martial law in the entire island of Mindanao, including Sulu, Jolo and Tawi-Tawi for a period of 60 days,” Abella said.
“The government is in full control of the situation and is fully aware that the Maute/ISIS and similar groups have the capability, though limited, to disturb the peace; these have shown no hesitation in causing havoc, taking innocent lives and destroying property,” Abella added.
Earlier, Malacañang said that foremost in President Duterte’s mind is the nation’s interest and asked for public calm and cooperation.
“Let us be clear that first and foremost, the President’s priority is the nation’s interest. He has full confidence in the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police’s management of the situation. We ask that the residents take all precaution, cooperate with authorities, and stay calm,” Abella said.