Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte listens to questions from reporters as he arrives at Manila's international airport, Philippines, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Duterte warned Wednesday that he'll be harsh in enforcing martial law in his country's south as he abruptly left Moscow to deal with a crisis at home sparked by a Muslim extremist siege on a city, where militants burned buildings overnight and are feared to have taken hostages. AP/Aaron Favila

Duterte praises Marcos' Martial Law as 'very good'
Audrey Morallo (Philstar.com) - May 25, 2017 - 3:54am

MANILA, Philippines (First published on May 24 at 8:40 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte, who has openly expressed his admiration for former President Ferdinand Marcos, said on Wednesday that the late dictator’s martial law declaration was “good,” ignoring widespread human rights abuses during what many Filipinos consider a dark chapter in Philippine history.

Speaking before reporters and government officials after arriving from Moscow, Russia, Duterte said that the martial law that the late dictator Marcos declared in September 1972 was “good.”

"[The] martial law of Mr. Marcos was very good," said Duterte, who has defended Marcos in the past and ordered the burial of his remains at the Heroes' Cemetery.

The president said in his Wednesday speech that the late strongman was forced to declare martial law to stave off the wave of communism during the time as the New People's Army back then was already getting arms support from sources outside the country.

“It was intended really. You know, as far as I’m concerned, I would say the only importation of firearms outside of the country ever to happen was Karagatan. All others were locally generated,” Duterte said referring to the MV Karagatan incident in July 1972, when security forces confiscated crates of Chinese-supplied firearms, bullets and rocket launchers intended to support the communist insurgency.

Former Marcos administration figures claimed that this incident really disturbed the former president and was one of the reasons for the declaration of military rule months later.

In 2016, he also praised the ousted dictator. "Whether or not he performed worse or better, there is no study, there is no movie about it. It’s just the challenges and allegations of the other side which is not enough," Duterte said last year.

The president seemed to be drawing parallelisms between himself and Marcos as he enumerated his bases for the declaration of military rule in Mindanao on Tuesday night.

Rebellion

At the press briefing, he said that the country was still in a state of emergency as sporadic skirmishes with the Maute Group fighters continued.

He said that the group’s activities, which included taking over a hospital, burning of government facilities and killing of government security forces, constituted rebellion that warranted his declaration of military rule.

“[T]he same Maute terrorist group has taken over a hospital in Marawi City in Lanao Del Sur, established checkpoints in the city, burned down several government facilities and inflicted casualties on the part of government forces and started flying the flag of Islamic State of Iraq and Syria otherwise known as ISIS thereby removing the allegiance from the Philippine government in this part of Mindanao and deprive the chief executive of his powers and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and maintain public order and safety in Mindanao thereby constituting the crime of rebellion,” the president said.

Marcos, in declaring martial law in 1972, reasoned that military rule was needed to stop Moro and communist rebellions from overtaking the republic.

However, this was not how many Filipinos experienced military rule as seen by the high number of cases of human rights abuses and persons missing.

According to historian Michael Charleston Chua, Task Force Detainees of the Philippines recorded 1,499 killed or wounded in massacres; 1,338 cases of “salvagings;” 398 disappearances; 128 frustrated “salvagings” and 2,668 incidents of arrest. These figures were from 1965 to 1986 including the martial law period from 1972 to 1981.

Duterte: No abuses under present martial law

Duterte assured the pubic that no abuses would be tolerated during the martial law period in Mindanao, which could last up to two months. He hinted, however, that he is willing to extend it until the end of his term and that it could be extended to cover the entire country.

He said that security officials found to have abused their authority would be subjected to military laws and would be tried by a military court.

“And for those military offenders you will have a summary hearing of a martial court. Military, they will be subjected to military laws. I warn everybody. Members of the military, police and everyone, do not try to challenge the government,” he said.

On Tuesday night, Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law following clashes between security forces and fighters of so-called Islamic State (IS)-inspired militants in Marawi City, leaving five people dead and 31 others injured, according to the military.

Duterte was also forced to cut short his visit to Moscow, where top security, defense and police officials were accompanying him.

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