Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III said on Wednesday that ensuring the safety of Marawi City residents and security of Mindanao is President Rodrigo Duterte’s top priority even as Congress waits for President Rodrigo Duterte’s report justifying the declaration of martial law in Mindanao, following a series of attacks by Maute terrorists in Marawi City in Lanao del Norte province.
Pimentel and Duterte, who both hail from Mindanao, cut their overseas trip short and immediately returned to the country following the attacks. They strongly condemned the acts of terror in the area.
“There’s no question that the violence perpetrated by the Maute gang of terrorists and their Abu Sayyaf cohorts has to be met with a correspondingly decisive military force to ensure the safety of the people in Marawi and in the whole of Mindanao,” stressed Pimentel.
According to Pimentel, “our aim is not just to stop the violence and crush the terrorists in Marawi as soon as possible. Equally important, we need to protect and stabilize other areas in Mindanao so that similar acts of terrorism shall not occur elsewhere.”
The Senate leader was in Moscow with the President when terrorists belonging to the Maute group, reportedly aided by members of the Abu Sayyaf, raided several areas in Marawi at set fire to a number of city landmarks.
The President placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law for a maximum of 60 days on Tuesday immediately after the terrorist siege.
The Senate head assured the public that Congress will actively examine and inquire into the stated causes of the President’s martial law declaration, and vowed that the legislature will not allow any abuse of the Chief Executive’s emergency powers.
“The President’s declaration shall be immediately followed by his submission of a report in person or in writing to Congress within 48 hours. Congress may revoke the declaration or it may extend the period beyond the mandated 60 days period if the public safety requires it. Our Constitution has enough safeguards against any abuse. The legislature will make sure that the power to declare martial law is properly invoked and used,” the Cagayan De Oro native explained.
Pimentel further explained that a majority vote of members of the House of Representatives and the Senate can revoke any martial law declaration.
“We’ve been receiving reports that the situation in Marawi is gradually being contained, that’s why the President’s constitutionally-mandated report is crucial in our job of gauging what to do next as far as the emergency situation is concerned.”