MANILA - Senators strongly condemned the attack of terrorist group Maute in Marawi City, capital of Lanao del Sur in Mindanao.
As of posting, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is still trying to contain members of the extremists group in Marawi as they vowed to prevent any spillover of the firefight.
In separate statements issued on Wednesday, the senators also expressed their support for the uniformed personnel fighting the Maute group.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms the attacks by the Maute Group in Marawi and extend our support to the men in uniform fighting to protect innocent lives," said Senator Bam Aquino, emphasizing that there is no room for terrorism in the country.
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, chair of the committee on national security, condemned the attack. He said nothing can justify attacks such as these.
"The indiscriminate destruction of lives, liberty and property is plain terrorism and cannot be be simply justified by political, economic, ideological or historical reasons," he said.
The senator said he believes compassion, political unity, social justice and technological advancement is the strategic solution to counter terrorism.
Senator Risa Hontiveros, meanwhile, called the attack of the terrorists in the city "cowardly," "dastardly," and "senseless."
She also offered prayers to the residents of Marawi and to the troops engaged in the fight against the terrorists.
"I join the Filipino people in strongly condemning the terrorist attack allegedly perpetrated by the Maute group in Marawi. Their assault is cowardly and totally senseless," she said.
"I hope and pray for the safety of our fellow Filipinos caught in the middle of this conflict," she added.
President Rodrigo Duterte has already declared martial law in Mindanao, saying he will deal with terrorists harshly.
Hontiveros said she hopes the administration remains judicious, calm and resolved in the time of crisis. "The government's actions must be measured even as they are prompt and decisive," she said.
Senator Joel Villanueva, for his part, also condemned the attack. He said the Senate will will be working with the all stakeholders in finding the most effective strategy to the crisis.
"As to the President's declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao, we understand why the situation calls for it due to the gravity of this horrific incident," he said.
"However, we believe much needs to be discussed on why putting Mindanao under the state of Martial Law is the best response for this crisis," he added.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, speaking as Liberal Party president, said Congress must look into the basis of the President's declaration as mandated by the Constitution.
"While martial law is an option available to the President and we respect this exercise of discretion, we in Congress will exercise our constitutional duty to look into the basis of the declaration and determine whether or not there is basis for its continued imposition," he said.
Citing the Constitution, Pangilinan said the President must submit a report to Congress 48 hours after the declaration of martial law. Congress will decide on whether or not the martial law should be declared or the writ of habeas corpus suspended.
If not, Congress can "voting jointly, by a vote of at least a majority of all its members in regular or special session" revoke the proclamation or suspension, the Senator stressed.
Pangilinan also urged the government to protect the human rights of civilians while the troops hunt down the terrorists in Marawi City.