Transcript of Senator Richard Gordon's statement at the Joint Session of Congress re absence of key gov't officials
Today we make history. This is the first time in our country where a joint session of Congress has been called to review the factual basis of the declaration of Martial Law. This is not a surprise upon any public official in this country. The Constitution is clear that within 48 hours, Congress must be convened to be able to review that action.
I feel very, very disappointed and feel diminished as a senator of this country that the Secretary of National Defense, whom I saw last night, and the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces could not be here to be able to answer questions on the joint session of Congress.
To my mind, if I may be so bold, we are a co-equal branch of government and the Constitution provides that we must review. And therefore, it behooves the Executive that she sends the highest officials involved in the declaration of Martial Law, the administrators of Martial Law, to appear before the congressmen and the senators, the representatives of the people, para sumagot at magpaliwanag.
Lumalabas na sa hindi nila pagdalo dito na tila, una, binabalewala ang kahalagahan ng Kongreso, ng House of Representatives at ng Senate, sa isang napakaselan na bagay. Walang mas mataas pa na lalabas na issue sa ating panahon kundi itong pagtawag ng Martial Law, kaya dapat nandito sila.
Pangalawa, lumalabas na mahina ang kaso ng gobyerno. Sapagkat kung nakakaalis ang Secretary of National Defense, kung nakakaalis ang Armed Forces Chief of Staff, ibig sabihin hindi napakaselan ng deklarasyon ng Martial Law at lumalabas na mukhang everything is under control.
For those reasons and others, this is the first time, this is the first exercise, first impression to the whole country where the Constitution is now being utilized, pinapakita kung paano babalansehin ng lehislatura ang executive at ito ay dadaan sa Korte Suprema.
Sa pagdeklara ng Martial Law tatlo ang kasama--the Executive who declares it; the Legislature that reviews it; and finally, the arbiter (Supreme Court) of whether there was a valid exercise of the declaration of Martial Law.
Kaya kailangan hindi dapat minamaliit ang okasyon na ito sapagkat lahat ng Congressman, lahat ng Senador ay nandito. Kaya wala akong nakikitang valid reason na sila ay aalis. Pwede silang magpadala ng representative sa MILF Conference, pwede silang magpadala ng representative sa China, pero sa bagay involving the rights of the people, kaya nilagay yan sa Saligang Batas, kaya sinabing kasama ang mga representatives, mga senador, kaya kasama ang Korte Suprema dahil ito ay napakaselan sapagkat maaabuso ang karapatang pantao.
Ang rason na yan ay sinasabi ko in order to say that I find it extremely disappointing, I am dismayed, and I am sure all of us here are dismayed, na parang binabalewala at lumalabas sa akin na mahina ang rason kung bakit dapat ipagpatuloy ang Martial Law sapagkat kaya pala nilang umalis at pwede na talagang i-lift ang Martial Law.