Palace: No abuses in Duterte's 'copycat' martial law

Ruth Abbey Gita

MALACAÑANG on Monday guaranteed that President Rodrigo Duterte will not allow any human rights’ violations, even if he threatens to declare martial law similar to the one-man rule during the Marcos regime.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella came on Duterte’s defense, saying the Chief Executive does not intend to emulate the martial rule imposed by the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

“First and foremost, it does not include at all references to any human rights abuse,” Abella told a press conference.

The President said over the weekend that he might be compelled to declare martial law again if the Supreme Court lifts the military enforcement he implemented last May 23 to quell rebellion in Mindanao.

Duterte was prompted to impose full military control in the embattled region after Islamic State-linked Maute terror group attacked Marawi City in Lanao del Sur province.

Last Saturday, Duterte warned that if he declares martial law again, it could be a “copycat” of Marcos’ dictatorship. He also stressed that he would not seek the advice of any government branch as he intends to “preserve the nation” on his own.

His statement came amid the impending decision of the Supreme Court on the legality of the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Abella reiterated that public safety is the President's "first and last consideration" in imposing martial law.

"I think we need to take note of the fact that CHR (Commission on Human Rights) just came out with a statement that they have not seen human rights abuses [on declaration of martial law in Mindanao]. So I think we should take that in context," Duterte’s spokesman said.

"The President is talking about the length and breadth and then depth of the efforts to be placed under martial law, especially because his first and last consideration regarding martial law is public safety," he added.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla Jr. likewise assured that Duterte would not tolerate any abuses.

Padilla said martial law currently being implemented has "complete regard for human rights, international humanitarian law, and other protocols that have been established."

He added that the President’s earlier instructions to the military are to ensure that they are able to “protect and save lives.”

"Definitely, the President will not be referring to abuses. He may refer to the breadth and the depth of how to impose it but I guess, it’s not because of the abuses," he said.

"The AFP will always guarantee the safety of each citizen who are doing the right things and not the wrong things and not breaking the law,” Padilla added.

Meanwhile, Padilla believed that the President would not pull out the government troops in Marawi City, once the high court rules against the implementation of military rule in Mindanao.

This was his assurance even after Duterte said that he would respect the Supreme Court’s decision and is ready to withdraw military enforcement in Marawi City, if the high court sees “no factual basis” on declaration of martial law.

Padilla said it would be “foolhardy” to cease the fight against Maute fighters just because the martial law has been revoked, admitting that lifting one-man rule complicates the situation as “the fight becomes increasingly hard.”

“Offensives will continue because there is a threat that’s being faced. And it would be foolhardy to stop the fight because the martial law was lifted,” he said. (SunStar Philippines)