MANILA, Philippines — The joint session of Congress to deliberate and vote on President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law until the year end opened Saturday morning, hours before the 60-day effectivity of Proclamation No. 216 was to lapse.
Both the Senate, with 14 members present, and House of Representatives, with 242, declared a quorum.
Leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives held a breakfast meeting earlier to discuss the rules to be adopted for the joint session.
Voting will be nominal, with each lawmaker to indicate “aye” or “nay” on being called, and after the votes are in, give the choice of explaining their vote within one minute or, on declining to do so, assign their time to another member of the same chamber.
Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III said joint voting will be followed despite some senators’ stated intention to move for a separate vote for each chamber.
But questions on the rules were immediately raised.
Senator Franklin Drilon proposed that the period for interpellation of a lawmaker be extended to four minutes instead of two minutes.
Albay Representative Edcel Lagman questioned Section 14 of Rule 8 that allows a member of Congress to make an explanation of his or her vote after the nominal voting, arguing that explanations should not be post mortem.
The government’s top security and defense officials were present in anticipation of a security briefing they are expected to give the lawmakers.
Although National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said they would request an executive session for the briefing, Sotto said as much as possible they want to keep proceedings public.
Congress hopes to reach a decision and end the session by 4 p.m.
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