Does the the Supreme Court have a jail high enough to hold more than 300 lawmakers?
This was the question thrown by Partylist Representative Harry Roque of Kabayan to the high tribunal which is expected to rule on two petitions for it to compel the Senate and the House of Representatives to convene in a joint session to discuss President Rodrigo Duterte’s martial law proclamation in Mindanao.
“The Supreme Court had better prepare a jail big enough to accommodate the members of the House of Representatives and Senate if it compels both Houses of Congress to convene in a joint session to review the declaration of martial law in Mindanao,” Roque said.
“I am sure the House of Representatives and the Senate will refuse to convene in a joint session as we have already affirmed the sufficiency of the grounds that the President cited in declaring Martial Law in Mindanao. So the SC better prepare a jail big enough to hold 292 representatives and 24 senators if they compel us to convene,” he added.
Roque’s taunt came a day after Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he would tear the court order for a joint session.
He also warned that this would cause a constitutional crisis because the judiciary has no right to dictate on the legislative, being co-equal branches of government.
Roque said should the lawmakers defy the Supreme Court, they would risk being cited in contempt for which detention would be the consequence of such an act.
Duterte had issued Proclamation No. 216 placing the entire Mindanao under martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in the region because of an alleged rebellion by a band of Muslim extremists known as the Maute group.
With alleged support from the ISIS, the Maute group has staged a series of attacks in Marawi City in a bid to establish an independent state to be headed by Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon.
As of posting time, Hapilon’s whereabouts are unknown although there have been reports that he is no longer in Marawi, which the military has denied.
The fighting between government troops and members of Maute has killed more than 100 military and police personnel and displaced thousands of residents.