Former Senate President Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr. contradicted his son, incumbent Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, by saying that that the 1987 Philippine Constitution requires Congress to hold a joint session to deliberate on President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law.
The younger Pimentel was among the 12 senators who disapproved a resolution calling for a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives to discuss the martial law declaration in Mindanao. He was also among the 17 senators who supported the declaration in Mindanao after the conflict between the government troops and the Maute Group started in Marawi City.
“That’s the duty of Congress. When I say Congress, the House and Senate. That’s what the Constitution provides. Within 48 hours from declaration of martial law, President [Rodrigo] Duterte is obligated to submit his report in writing or in person before the Senate and the House in joint session. Kung walang session, call a special session,” the elder Pimentel told the media on June 1.
“That is mandated by the Constitution….Because the people have to know ano ba puno’t dulo nito,” he added.
Nene also contradicted the argument by some lawmakers that Congress only needs a joint session if it is going to revoke the declaration of martial law.
“Revoke, extend, justify. In other words, do their function to report to the people because they are the representatives of the people,” he said.
The elder Pimentel told reporters that his son did not consult him on the issue, although he said that he already advised his son to do what he thinks is right.
“That is in line with my advice to him: Do what you think is right. Do not let people judge you because of what I say,” he said.
Asked about his take on the possibility of a nationwide martial law, the elder Pimentel said that he does not see the President doing that.
“I do not see that. Even if verbally he says martial law will be harsh, he knows there are now restrictions imposed by the Constitution, unlike before when Marcos declared martial law, it’s up to Marcos to do what he wants to do. Now he has to listen to the injunctions of the Constitution,” he said.
While Nene said that Duterte’s declaration of martial law has a basis, he said that he does not see why it should be imposed over the entire Mindanao.
“Medyo sa tingin ko alanganin because not all of Mindanao is affected by the trouble. But saying that I can also project the situation that the President knows more about the threats than we do. That’s why he’s obligated to report to Congress…” he told reporters.
He urged the people to “speak out” and do their job as part of a democratic country, even after lawmakers had rejected moves for a joint session.
“If the people think there is something wrong, they should speak out. We are a democracy, that is the job of the people. Good governance does not depend on the governors alone but also on the governed,” he said.
Nene founded the current ruling party, PDP-Laban, Duterte’s party, although he is no longer active in running it. The current party president is his son.