12 senators favor joint session on Mindanao martial law

Camille Elemia
12 senators favor joint session on Mindanao martial law
At least 12 of the 23 senators favor a joint congressional session to deliberate on President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao

MANILA, Philippines – At least 12 of the country’s 23 senators want a joint congressional session to deliberate on President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

While generally supportive of the President’s move, senators said it is Congress’ constitutional mandate to still discuss the declaration. Twelve senators favor holding a joint session with the House of Representatives, two have yet to finalize their stand, while 5 senators say there is no need to convene. Four others have yet to answer.

The 6-member minority bloc filed a resolution seeking to also discuss the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, which enables the military to make arrests in Mindanao without court intervention. (READ: Martial Law 101: Things you should know)

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon as well as senators Francis Pangilinan, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Leila de Lima, Antonio Trillanes IV, and Risa Hontiveros filed the measure for the sake of “transparency and accountability.” (READ: No joint session on martial law? Congress ‘shields’ Duterte)

The chamber is set to discuss the matter on Tuesday, May 30, according to Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III. It remains to be seen if the senators’ vote will reflect their stand.

Section 18, Article VII of the 1987 Constitution states that Congress, voting jointly and with a simple majority, may revoke or extend the declaration.

Find out where your senators stand on the issue of convening a joint public session on martial law:


Minority bloc

1. Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon
2. Francis Pangilinan
3. Leila de Lima
4. Risa Hontiveros
5. Antonio Trillanes IV
6. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV

Majority bloc

7. Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto

“Yes, Constitution is clear. Congress must convene in joint session to affirm or reject declaration. The voices of people’s representatives must be heard on such an important issue. That is the intent of our framers,” Recto said in a text message to Rappler.

8. Sherwin Gatchalian

In a statement dated May 25, he said: “I am calling on the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives to immediately convene the constituent chambers of Congress in a joint session to exercise the legislative duty under Art. VII, Sec. 18 of the 1987 Constitution to review Proclamation No. 216.

“[B]oth houses of Congress must come together as soon as humanly possible to discuss Proclamation No. 216 and ensure that the government is using the most proper and effective means to restore peace, order, and security in Marawi City.”

9. Joel Villanueva

“Yes, ‘for’ as earlier stated,” he said in a text message.

In a separate statement, Villanueva said: “We believe much needs to be discussed on why putting Mindanao under the state of martial law is the best response for this crisis.”

10. Loren Legarda

“A decision to revoke or not to revoke could only be arrived at through such an exercise where every legislator would express his or her affirmation or dissent. Our nation has never before been placed under this situation post-EDSA. The Constitutional provisions that were meant to ensure checks and balances among the 3 branches of government would require no less,” she said in a statement.

11. Joseph Victor Ejercito

“Personally, I prefer that the declaration of martial law, being a very sensitive matter be affirmed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives. It will also be good for the President when both houses affirm the declaration of martial law.”

12. Francis Escudero

“Yes. Because a member, Senator Trillanes, already asked that it be revoked. The only way by which such motion can be acted upon is if Congress sits in joint session in order to vote on it. The spirit behind the martial law provisions in the Constitution, given our experience under Marcos, is to make it easier to revoke it and not the opposite,” he said in a text message.


1. Grace Poe

[Duterte] needs approval from Congress. Congress has to be able to agree that martial law is indeed warranted in this case, but Congress does not have to convene jointly, unless, for example, it will reject martial law. But I think for students of history, it’s good that every senator and every congressman, or at least those who have an interest to manifest, should manifest why they voted as such,” Poe said in an interview with ANC on Monday, May 29.

Rappler asked Poe for clarification on her stand, but has yet to receive a response.

2. Juan Edgardo Angara

“Let’s wait for the presentation of the military on the factual basis on the grounds, so we can make an enlightened decision,” Angara said in an interview.

“Whether it’s joint session or in Senate session, we’ll be talking about the basis for the declaration of martial law,” he added.



1. Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III

“Ang literal reading ko sa Constitution gano’n (That is my literal reading of the Constitution). The only question is what is the developing sentiment among legislators? If it is to revoke, then we must schedule the joint session. If it is not to revoke then we can still meet whether to call the joint session or not, kasi useless hindi ba (because it’d be useless, right)?” Pimentel said in an earlier interview.

2. Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III

In a text message to Rappler, 
Sotto said: “Why would they want a joint session when it is not necessary, not needed, not really called for? It’s not necessary at all except [for] media mileage.”

3. Senator Panfilo Lacson

“Congress needs to convene only if there is intent to revoke the declaration,” Lacson said in Filipino in an interview with radio dzBB.

4. Senator Cynthia Villar

“I think if there is a move for a joint session to revoke, he has to listen. But there are no moves like that. It’s just hypothetical. No enough votes to revoke, then there’s no joint session,” Villar said on Monday, May 29.

5. Senator Manny Pacquiao

“Mandatory ‘yan sa Constitution natin kaya lang kung, only ‘pag may mag-propose magtawag ng joint session. Kung wala naman tatawag, aprub lahat sa lower House and sa Senate, ‘di na kailangan,” Pacquiao said in an interview.

(It’s mandatory in our Constitution but only if someone proposes that there be a joint session. If no one calls for a joint session, if all members of the House and the Senate approve of the martial law declaration, then a joint session is no longer needed.)


1. Gregorio Honasan
2. Juan Miguel Zubiri
3. Nancy Binay
4. Richard Gordon

– Rappler.com

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Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com