Nene Pimentel contradicts son Koko: Congress required to hold joint session

Camille Elemia
Nene Pimentel contradicts son Koko: Congress required to hold joint session
'That is mandated by the Constitution,' says former Senate president Aquilino 'Nene' Pimentel Jr

MANILA, Philippines – Contradicting the position taken by his son, former Senate president Aquilino “Nene” Pimentel Jr said on Thursday, June 1, that the 1987 Constitution requires Congress to hold a joint session to discuss the declaration of martial law.

While he supports the declaration of martial law in Mindanao to quell terrorists, the former senator said the Constitution is clear that the Senate and the House of Representatives should convene to discuss it.

“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 (If there is no session), call a special session,” the elder Pimentel told reporters on Thursday.

“That is mandated by the Constitution….Because the people have to know ano ba puno’t dulo nito (what started this),” he added.

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III has a different interpretation, saying Congress needs to convene only if it will revoke the proclamation.

The Senate President was among the 17 senators who expressed support for the declaration of military rule in Mindanao, following the Maute Group’s attack on Marawi City.

The younger Pimentel and 11 other senators also rejected the minority bloc’s call to hold a joint public session to deliberate on Duterte’s proclamation.

When asked, the elder Pimentel said his son did not consult him on the issue as his standing advice to him is to do what he thinks is right. The son has always been compared to his father, a human rights lawyer and staunch critic of martial law under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos. (READ: Koko Pimentel: His father’s son, the President’s ‘protector’)

“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,” the former senator said.

Asked for comment on his son’s position, the elder Pimentel said the Senate President had so many “ifs.”

“What I understand is that he had so many ‘ifs’ preliminary to this thing. If, if, if and then, and you give a general statement,” he said.

“But if you base the actions of the Senate and the House, it has to be on the basis of what the Constitution mandates because the people have to know,” he added.

On the possible nationwide imposition of martial law, the former Senate leader doubts Duterte would do 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.

Despite this, the former senator urged the public to speak out.

“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.

It was the elder Pimentel who founded the current ruling party, PDP-Laban, but is no longer active in its affairs. His son is the party president and a staunch ally of Duterte. – 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