Military can contain Maute even without martial law, defense chief tells senators


Posted at May 30 2017 04:10 PM

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told lawmakers during a martial law briefing that government troops could contain the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City even without the declaration of martial law, minority senators claimed on Tuesday.

"During the closed-door briefing yesterday, the question asked pointedly by Senator [Antonio] Trillanes was, 'Can we contain Maute without martial law?' The answer of Secretary Lorenzana was, 'Yes, we can,'" Senate minority leader Franklin Drilon said in a press conference.

Top security officials met with members of Congress in a closed-door meeting Monday to discuss the basis of President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao after fighting broke out between government forces and the Maute terrorist group last week.

"When asked, the security officials said, hindi sila yung nagrekomenda (na magdeklara ng martial law)," Senator Antonio Trillanes IV said.

Drilon said Lorenzana's statements served as one of the bases why the Senate minority bloc filed Senate Resolution 390 calling for the convening of Congress in joint session to deliberate on Duterte's martial law proclamation.

"This points to the need of a joint session where the hearing can be done para sa transparency," Drilon said.

The joint session, a constitutional requirement once a president declares martial law, will also address fake news and misinformation spreading online, Senator Bam Aquino said.

The Senate majority bloc earlier filed Senate Resolution 388 after 15 senators agreed to back Duterte's martial law declaration.

Senator Risa Hontiveros said the majority's resolution did not mention that some of 15 senators may not be against the idea of convening the legislative branch as a whole.

"Sa tantsa namin, may mga bahagi ng majority na pabor din sa joint session," Hontiveros said.

Opposition lawmakers in the House of Representatives said they plan to question Duterte's martial law declaration before the Supreme Court, including the House leadership's decision not to convene all its members to discuss the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. 

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier said it was unnecessary to call for a joint session unless Congress decided that it would revoke the president's declaration. Each representative was instead given a copy of the president's martial law proclamation. 

Alvarez has told non-Mindanaoan representatives to "shut up" and keep their hands off the issue.