Senators urge Duterte: Shut up on martial law
“President Duterte should just shut up on these martial law threats and just govern our country the way any responsible leader should,” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said yesterday.
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Senators urge Duterte: Shut up on martial law
Paolo Romero (The Philippine Star) - January 17, 2017 - 1:13am

MANILA, Philippines - It’s a cure worse than the disease, and if he doesn’t mean it, he should stop talking about it.

Senators yesterday warned President Duterte against making threats to declare martial law, saying it could not be used against the drug menace, is contrary to the sentiments of Filipinos and could drive away tourists and investors.

Over the weekend, Duterte warned that he would place the country under martial rule if the drug menace became “virulent” and no one could stop him, not even the oversight powers of Congress and the Supreme Court.

Presidential Communications Office chief Martin Andanar slammed the “misreporting” of the statement and said Duterte did not intend to declare martial law.

“President Duterte should just shut up on these martial law threats and just govern our country the way any responsible leader should,” Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV said yesterday.

Sen. Franklin Drilon cautioned Duterte against making statements that cause fear and tension among the people, and defended the media over the accusation of
“misreporting” Duterte’s statement.

He pointed out that the 1987 Constitution only allows the declaration of martial law upon the concurrence of two requisites: one, when there is actual invasion or rebellion and two, when public safety requires it. And these two requisites must be present.

Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto pointed out that “there is no basis to declare martial law.”

“Rebellion has been tamed. No foreign army is steaming toward our shores to invade us. And as the President himself likes to brag, crime is down and the people are safe in their homes and communities. And as to the real enemies of the people – joblessness, hunger, poor social services – these cannot be suppressed by the armed forces,” he added.

Recto stressed that martial law is a cure worse than the perceived disease. “At a time when we project stability to reel in tourists and investors, a martial law declaration will show the opposite… how unstable we are.”

Recto also advised Filipinos to get used to the “theatrical bombast” of Duterte, whose “bluster should be likened to a dog that always barks but seldom bites.”

Drilon said such pronouncements only strengthen the people’s perception that “the rule of law plays second fiddle to the administration’s campaign against drugs.” 

He also said “the news reports were devoid of any interpretation by the media.”

“The reports were based on the President’s speech and the statements were quoted verbatim. We should not blame the press for reporting what the President said,” he said.

For Sen. Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Duterte should seriously take notice of the recent Pulse Asia survey where 74 percent of Filipinos opposed the imposition of martial law.

“Why does the President seem so obsessed with dictatorial rule when the majority of the people want democratic governance?” Sen. Risa Hontiveros added.

Trillanes said “all freedom-loving Filipinos should start preparing to fight another dictator. Soldiers should also start reviewing their constitutional mandate.”

The fisherfolk group Pambansang Lakas ng Kilusang Mamamalakaya ng Pilipinas (Pamalakaya) also slammed Duterte’s threat to declare martial law.

“The hands of the armed forces are already tainted with blood, their institution is already embedded with human rights violations and impunity. We fear that bringing back the military rule would heighten the dictatorial character of the already fascist Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Pamalakaya chair Fernando Hicap said in a statement.

“Duterte should keep true to his earlier pronouncement that he would not declare martial law because nothing happened during those dark days. Martial law will never be the solution to resolve the ills of society like proliferation of illegal drugs and crimes. President Duterte should instead address why these anti-social activities prevail in the present societal system.

“The Filipino people have surpassed martial law and toppled a dictator before. We will again do so if this purported plot for martial law would become imminent and in the name of preserving the basic rights of the Filipino people,” he added.

Koko: Duterte just discussing his power

Senate President Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, an ally of Duterte, downplayed his threat to declare martial law.

He said everything in Duterte’s statement, even if hypothetical, was in conformity with the Constitution.

“Don’t be too alarmed about a lawyer president discussing his power which is clear also under the Constitution. What is so alarming about that?” Pimentel told reporters.

“The statement that the President has the power on his own to declare martial law is found in the Constitution and all other safeguards are also found in the Constitution. Don’t worry too much about that legally correct statement of the President,” he added.

Sen. Panfilo Lacson also downplayed Duterte’s threats to declare martial law.

“It’s one of those rhetoric that we should get ourselves used to by now. Instead of commenting, it’s prudent to just wait for his spokespersons to interpret or clarify first,” he said. – With Delon Porcalla, Rhodina Villanueva, Ding Cervantes


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