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‘Martial law copycat refers to breadth of declaration, not abuses’

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte was not referring to abuses when he talked about declaring martial law that is virtually a “copycat of Marcos’,” officials clarified yesterday.

Duterte has vowed to pull out military troops in Marawi City if the Supreme Court decides that his martial law declaration in Mindanao has no factual basis.

He, however, warned that he would no longer listen to anyone if Mindanao is plagued anew with violence that would require him to declare martial law for the second time. 

According to the President, the next martial law he would declare could be a “copycat” of that of former president Ferdinand Marcos, the late dictator who placed the entire country under military rule in 1972.

Human rights groups claimed that Marcos used martial law to perpetuate himself in power, suppress the opposition and curtail civil liberties. 

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said Duterte was just referring to the “breadth and depth” of martial law when he made the “Marcos copycat” remark.  

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“You can see how the military is implementing martial law now, its complete regard for human rights and IHL (International Humanitarian Law) and the other protocols that have been established,” Padilla said in a press briefing in Malacañang, adding that the military would respond to any complaint related to martial law, which was declared in Mindanao on May 23 after Maute terrorists raided Marawi City. 

Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III and Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said the Senate may request more closed-door briefings from security officers might be asked to help lawmakers make decisions at the end of the 60-day martial law period.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte stressed that public safety was the primary consideration for declaring martial law. Members of the opposition and civil society groups have challenged the proclamation before the Supreme Court, alleging that it has no sufficient basis.    

Padilla said operations against terrorists would continue even if the Supreme Court rules against martial law. 

Solicitor General Jose Calida reiterated his plea for the high court to dismiss the petitions, insisting that the petitioners led by Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman failed to prove allegations that Proclamation 216 had no factual basis and that the President committed grave abuse of discretion in using his martial law power under Article VII, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution.– With Paolo Romero, Edu Punay, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Jose Rodel Clapano, Janie Cameron

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