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Congress votes today on martial law extension

By: Ben R. Rosario

Whether senators like it or not, Congress will vote on the petition of President Duterte to extend martial law in Mindanao in a special joint session today.

ABS party-list Rep. and House Assistant Minority Leader Eugene Michael de Vera warned that Congress members who will not show up today will violate a constitutional duty and may be subjected to discipline.

House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte Rep. Rodolfo Fariñas has hinted that the proposed rules for today’s joint session will not depart from the constitutional provision that members of the House and the Senate vote jointly on the proposed extension.

Under the rule, a vote by a congressman and a senator will be counted as one and treated at equal footing.

Thus, De Vera stated, the Duterte administration’s proposal for martial law extension will be considered approved by a vote of 159 Congress members which represent the simple majority.

Expected to attend today are 294 congressmen and 22 of 23 senators or a total of 316 legislators.

Detained opposition Sen. Leila M. de Lima will not be able to attend the congressional proceedings called by Duterte.

Fariñas and De Vera warned that separate voting by the two legislative chambers can be a guarantee of a Supreme Court ruling to declare the result of the martial law voting unconstitutional.

“While I believe that the SC will uphold the bottom line result of the voting, it will also rule that voting should be joint. The Constitution is explicit about this intention,” said De Vera.

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