Senator: Congress likely to back martial law in Mindanao

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — Senator Cynthia Villar thinks Congress will back President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao following the clash between government forces and the Maute Group, she said Thursday.

"I think we will support the President, it's just that we're asking the office to give us an update on what's happening in Mindanao," Villar told CNN Philippines' The Source.

The Senate is scheduled to have a briefing on the Marawi crisis on Monday, during which they will have a caucus. The House of Representatives is scheduled to have their session on Wednesday.

Majority Floor Leader Sen. Tito Sotto said on Wednesday they will invite Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon and AFP Chief of Staff Eduardo Ano to speak at the Monday session.

"Because we're supporting martial law, so we should know what's... happening there that will warrant martial law," said Villar.

Duterte on Wednesday also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, a preventive measure against warrantless arrests, and even considered expanding martial law to Visayas and Luzon.

Related: Possible nationwide martial law; could last longer — Duterte

Villar doubted that Duterte would expand martial law to other areas of the Philippines.

"I think he's saying that so these people will think twice about doing something," said Villar, referring to rebel groups in Mindanao.

She added that majority of the senators support the declaration, although some opposition senators Sen. Risa Hontiveros and Sen. Antonio "Sonny" Trillanes IV also expressed concern.

Watch: Mixed reactions among senators to martial law

Congress joint session up in the air

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez announced on Wednesday that Congress will convene a joint session to either affirm or revoke martial law.

Related: Congress to convene joint session on martial law declaration

No joint session by the senators and congressmen is expected to happen in the next days until the briefing sessions on Monday and Wednesday.

The 1987 Constitution limits martial rule to 60 days and only in cases of invasion, rebellion, or when public safety requires it. The President is then expected to submit a report within 48 hours of the declaration, and both houses of Congress must vote jointly to revoke or extend the declaration.

Congress is still awaiting the President's report on the grounds of martial law, which they are expecting to receive on Thursday evening. However, they have been sent copies of the martial law proclamation.

Related: House, Senate receive copy of martial law proclamation

Some officials argue that the joint session is actually unnecessary unless the declaration of martial law will be revoked.

When asked if she thought the President needed the approval of Congress, Villar answered, "No, he can declare it. But we can revoke it. I don't think there's a move to revoke it."

Sen. Chiz Escudero also said that "no member of either the House or the Senate has moved or asked to revoke it in whole or in part."

"I don't think it's needed, unless to revoke [it]," Escudero said of a joint session.

House Majority Leader Rudy Farinas maintains a similar position. He added that in order to hold a joint session, a concurrent resolution of both houses is needed.

Related: No need for Congress to approve martial law — Rep Farinas

Neither the Senate nor the House of Representatives is inclined to issue such a resolution, CNN Philippines correspondent Joyce Ilas reported on Thursday.

However, 1986 Constitutional Commission member Christian Monsod questioned the declaration of martial law on Wednesday.

"The military has been saying... that they have full control. The civil authorities are functioning, the military is inside and surrounding the area," Monsod told CNN Philippines' anchor Pinky Webb. "Is there really the kind of rebellion that calls for the declaration of martial law?"

Seven lawmakers from the Makabayan bloc are planning to contest the declaration at the House of Representatives.

Lawyers from the Philippine Muslim Society also plan to question the declaration before the Supreme Court.

Related: Muslim lawyers to challenge martial law declaration before Supreme Court

CNN Philippines Correspondents Cecille Lardizabal and Joyce Ilas contributed to this report.