Duterte camp allays dictatorship fears, hits Aquino on ‘short cut’ of due process

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - June 13, 2016 - 10:48pm
DAVAO CITY — The camp of President-elect Rodrigo Duterte on Monday allayed fears of a supposed looming dictatorship under his administration after President Aquino called on Filipinos to be vigilant to prevent a repeat of the horrors of Martial Law.
Incoming presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said such fears are “misplaced,” noting that Duterte has vowed to respect the rule of law when he assumes office.
“President-elect Duterte has already said that there will be no martial law, no dictatorship during his term. He will be following the Constitution and the rule of law,” he said.
Panelo took a jab at the outgoing Aquino administration, saying there were instances when the Bill of Rights were violated under the present leadership
“In fact, under a Duterte presidency, the Bill of Rights enshrined in the Constitution will be in full bloom. Remember that he is a lawyer and lawyers are trained to observe and enforce the constitution,” Panelo said.
“There were many violations of Bill of Rights during the terms of previous presidents and the present administration. There was a short-cut of due process,” he added. 
Panelo cited the case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, who is now under hospital arrest for allegedly misusing intelligence funds of the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) worth P366 million.
In 2011, Arroyo tried to leave for Singapore to seek treatment for a bone ailment but was stopped by airport authorities due to a watch list order issued by the Justice department.
The former president was barred from leaving the country even if the Supreme Court has stopped the government from enforcing the watch list order.
Then Justice Secretary Leila de Lima insisted that the watch list stays until her agency receives a copy of the temporary restraining order (TRO) issued by the high court. Arroyo’s lawyers said the Justice department had disrespected the Supreme Court when it refused to abide by the TRO.
“No cases have been filed against her (that time) but she was stopped in the airport,” Panelo said.
Panelo said there is no need to remind Filipinos to oppose tyranny because they have already proven they can rise against it as seen during the 1986 EDSA Revolution.
He said uneasiness of some sectors towards the incoming administration may have stemmed from Duterte’s style of governance.
“He (Duterte) is assertive. He has political will, he walks his talk. He is different from other presidents,” Panelo said.  
“Other presidents are prim but he is brave and he does what he says,” he added.
During his final Independence Day address as president, Aquino urged Filipinos to defend democracy and to guard against efforts to restrict their freedoms.
“Let us remember that just a generation ago, the Philippine government itself was the one suppressing the freedom of our fellow Filipinos. A fellow Filipino deprived us of our freedoms. It means that if we are not vigilant, this can happen again,” Aquino said.
Aquino also claimed that his administration was able to implement positive changes in the country without disregarding the rule of law and due process.
He also called on Filipinos not to lose patience with the ways of democracy.
“May we never take it for granted or be passive in its defense,” the outgoing president said.

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