De Lima warns: Martial law extension 'foregone conclusion'

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 20) — With both houses of Congress set to vote jointly on the 5-month extension of martial law in Mindanao, the result would be more or less expected, if not predictable.

For Sen. Leila de Lima, the extension would practically be a "foregone conclusion" if the joint session would not turn out to be a "critical inquiry." Voting is a numbers game and administration-allied lawmakers, both at the Senate and House of Representatives, outnumber those who aren't.

Currently, there are 23 incumbent senators, after Alan Peter Cayetano was given the Foreign Affairs post. De Lima, who is detained at Camp Crame, wouldn't be able to make to it to the Batasang Pambansa on Saturday to cast her vote. That leaves 22 senators. Even if, theoretically, all of them would vote against an extension, the 292-member House — mostly belonging to the supermajority — would still outnumber them.

The House and Senate secretaries-general had said a majority vote of the two chambers voting jointly — at least 158 of the 314 lawmakers — would be needed to pass the motion to extend martial law.

Just the same, the detained lawmaker lashed out at the Duterte administration's "creeping authoritarianism" in the face of an impending 150-day extension of military rule in the south.

"The extension of martial law in the whole of Mindanao beyond another 60-day period is not only excessive, it is also unconstitutional," De Lima said in a statement Thursday, adding that the conditions justifying martial law could not be "realistically projected to still exist in the entire months of August to December."

Related: Supreme Court upholds martial law in Mindanao

Senators, like Panfilo Lacson and Joel Villanueva, had noted the numerical disadvantage in a joint vote, but Senate President Koko Pimentel said it was what the constitution had provided.

House Majority Leader, Rodolfo Fariñas, said voting jointly made sense, saying that if the two houses of Congress voted separately and would have different decisions, there would be a deadlock and lawmakers wouldn't be able to revoke or extend martial law.

A security briefing is scheduled before the July 22 joint session, which is set at 9 a.m. Invited resource persons are military and security experts, and some Cabinet members.

House Secretary-General Cesar Pareja said, though, the joint session might be held behind closed doors — to the dismay of opposition lawmakers, who also noted that an extension would almost be certainly approved.

A decision is expected to be arrived at before the martial law proclamation lapses by 10 p.m.

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