MANILA- Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Thursday urged President Rodrigo Duterte to notify Congress if he plans to extend martial law in Mindanao before the current declaration lapses on July 22, two days before his second State of the Nation Address.
This amid rife talk on the possible extension of the 60-day martial rule, as the crisis in conflict-stricken Marawi City continued to drag on.
"The Constitution is clear that it is Congress that has the power to extend martial law and the President may only recommend," Drilon told reporters.
Drilon said the Senate and the House of Representatives, which will hold a joint session for the SONA, may opt "not to adjourn" after the President's speech so that the legislature may tackle martial law extension jointly.
He said that, by practice, Congress holds the joint session "only to hear the President's SONA." But it may remain in session to tackle a proposal to extend martial law, if the President so requests such.
In a separate interview, Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, a key ally of the President at the chamber, agreed with the minority leader and said Duterte must request the extension before the end of the original 60-day term.
Pimentel did not clarify if he was open to tackling the extension issue through a joint session but said he has asked the executive to brief lawmakers on the "progress of martial law" since it was declared in May.
With majority of lawmakers supporting the declaration, the two legislative chambers had opted not to convene in a joint session to review martial law.
Duterte had declared military rule over all of Mindanao after firefights between government and Islamic State-linked Maute and Abu Sayyaf terrorists erupted in Marawi City on May 23.
Earlier, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Duterte may just re-issue another martial law declaration should Congress decide to thumb down a proposal for the extension.
He said the Constitution is not explicit that the President may only declare a 60-day martial rule once.
Earlier this week, the Supreme Court upheld Duterte's martial law declaration in Mindanao, with 11 magistrates voting in favor of the military rule, three voting to limit its scope, and a lone justice saying it had no basis.