‘Where is the President?’

Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and Speaker Prospero Nograles preside over an unprecedented joint session of Congress called to deliberate on President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s declaration of martial law in Maguindanao.

MANILA, Philippines—“Where is the President?”

Lawmakers Wednesday cited the glaring absence of the commander in chief, who declared martial law in Maguindanao province, during the first joint session of Congress.

The session was delayed by almost an hour due to debates on the absence of the President, her defense secretary and the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“Why is she not here? This is history. Does she not have the courtesy at all to report in person? We thought that with the President declaring martial law, the President herself should be here to explain to us,” asked Maguindanao Rep. Didagen Dilangalen, his voice rising.

Together with fellow Maguindanao Rep. Simeon Datumanong, Dilangalen said that they were the only lawmakers who were personally affected by Presidential Proclamation No. 1959.

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