MANILA, Philippines – Leaders of the 17th Congress and selected administration-allied senators and lawmakers will meet with President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, July 17.
Among those confirmed to go are Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, House Majority Leader Rodolfo Fariñas, and House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez.
Majority senators and selected lawmakers from the House committee on peace, reconciliation, and unity have been invited to the meeting as well. The meeting is scheduled at around 6:30 pm on Monday.
While no specific agenda was specified by Malacañang, sources privy to the meeting believe the President will discuss martial law in Mindanao as well as the proposed Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL).
Pimentel previously told reporters that the BBL is the official agenda of the meeting. But he said the martial law declaration in Mindanao will likely be tackled, too.
In fact, the Office of the President sent invitations to the same set of legislators to attend the turnover ceremony of the newly drafted BBL by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC). This will happen about an hour before Duterte’s meeting with the lawmakers.
Duterte had created the BTC late last year to make an “improved version” of the BBL.
The President’s meeting with the lawmakers comes 5 days before his declaration of martial law in Mindanao is set to expire on July 22.
On May 23, Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao after government troops clashed with homegrown terrorists from the Maute Group and Abu Sayyaf Group in Marawi City.
The 1987 Constitution allows the President to declare martial law for a period of 60 days only. Any extension needs approval from both houses of Congress.
Alvarez, Davao del Norte 1st district representative, said he will push for martial law to be extended until the end of Duterte’s term in 2022.
The chiefs of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police said they are likely to recommend the extension of martial law as well. But the military believes Alvarez’s proposal may be “too long.” – Rappler.com