Congress joint session closes

The historic joint session to deliberate on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of martial law over Maguindanao province convened at 4:10 p.m. on Monday. Since martial law was lifted last Saturday, the session is expected to close today.
From the many empty seats, both at the gallery and on the congressional floor, it seems the historic joint session will end with a whimper. I can imagine all those who died during Marcos’ martial law turning in their graves. Will blog this last day of the joint session.

Bayan Muna Partylist Rep. Neri Colmenares says the issue is not about martial law being imposed to give justice to victims of Ampatuan massacre, or if martial law is needed to arrest the members of the Ampatuan clan. The issue is whether or not the massing of armed men, of armed men positioning themselves to resist government, is enough basis to declare martial law.
“They were not resisting yet, they were establishing positions to resist,” Colmenares said. “Baka pwede impose ulit sa iba’t ibang bahagi the moment may armed group na nagpo-position.”

Rep. Walden Bello, Partylist Akbayan: I do not think the military deserves congratulations for this sorry state. I do not think the President deserves congratulations for lifting martial law. It was a move not made out of principle, it was a tactical retreat. The facts that revealed under congressional questioning…was that it was a law and order situation, not a rebellion; one that could be managed with the calling out powers of the president.

Akbayan Partylist Rep. Risa Hontiveros-Baraquiel: We did not convene in a timely manner. Kumpletuhin natin ang trabaho. Kung hindi man sa pagboto, magsalita tayo bilang joint session ng ating kongreso.

Cibac Partylist Rep. Joel Villanueva: We in Cibac believe that martial law diverted attention from the root issue, which was to give justice to the 57 civilians brutally killed in Maguindanao. What has martial law done to move us closer to this objective? People want justice, not an invalid and fabricated martial law.

Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus Rodriguez proposes a joint resolution by the House of Representatives and the Senate on PD 1959, but is eventually convinced to withdraw the motion, since the Senate has already passed its own resolution on the proclamation of martial law. The joint session is finally adjourned at 8:16.

Members of the House of Representatives were asked to stay, however, because the House would resume its regular session in a few minutes.


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