MANILA, Philippines – Former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay has called on lawyers to support a petition before the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the House of Representatives and the Senate to hold a joint session to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte's martial law in Mindanao.
Hilbay posted the #ConveneCongress callout on Twitter Friday, June 2.
According to the callout, the petitioners are "Senators and Members of the House of Representatives who voted to convene the joint session, martial law victims of the Marcos era, residents of Mindanao, constitutional law professors and other concerned taxpayers." (READ: No joint session on martial law? Congress 'shields' Duterte)
Hilbay considered the idea on May 28 when he posted the tweet: "Here's an idea. 300 lawyers signing on to an SC petition to require Congress to comply with its constitutional duty to convene & deliberate." (READ: On Congress and martial law, 2 words: 'Duty' and "review')
The callout would be posted 5 days later. It asked lawyers "in good standing" to join the petition so that their names could be included in the list of lawyer-supporters "to be annexed in the petition."
Follow the Constitution. #ConveneCongress, NOW. Join email@example.com pic.twitter.com/fw0bnq2SDO — florin hilbay (@fthilbay) June 2, 2017
Why the petition
"The Constitution is clear: Congress has the ministerial duty to convene a joint session and deliberate the factual and constitutional bases for martial law. Government should not be allowed to violate the Constitution," said the callout.
According to the callout, "they did so without holidng a joint session as required by our Constitution. This is a shortcut to an important process."
"We need to see that the system of checks and balances in our Constitution is working. Congress should not be allowed to just shirk from, or disregard its duty," the callout added.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre has urged Congress to convene, but said they have until the 60-day prescribed period to do so.
"Hindi naman sinabi ng Constitution kung kailan, still this is acceptable as long as the expiration of the original 60-day period ay puwede pa mag-convene and declare their support," Aguirre said.
(The Constitution did not say when, still this is acceptable as long as the expiration of the original 60-day period is not up, they can still convene and declare their support.) – Rappler.com