Palace welcomes British envoy's statement on martial law

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Palace welcomes British envoy's statement on martial law

In this June 9, 2017, photo, soldiers ride a military vehicle on the outskirts of Marawi City, southern Philippines. The Philippine military says 13 marines have been killed in fierce fighting with Muslim militants who have laid siege to southern Marawi City. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang on Saturday welcomed British Ambassador Asif Ahmad’s statement that there is nothing wrong with the declaration of martial law as long as its implementation is in line with the Constitution.

Ahmad, who once expressed concern over the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs, told reporters last Wednesday that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with declaring martial law, noting that the issue is about how facilities are used to be accountable and to bring the situation under control.

The envoy also stressed that the sending of military forces into civilian communities should be done “under the code of law.”

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said Ahmad’s “support” for martial law may have stemmed from the recent attacks in London.

“We appreciate ‘the statement of the Ambassador to support the Constitutional implementation of martial law and military action to suppress violence and impose control and security,” Abella told state-run Radyo Pilipinas.

“Both the Philippines and the United Kingdom had suffered immensely from recent terrorist attacks and we reiterate our sympathy and solidarity with the victims in the Manchester and London atrocities and we stand with the UK and the entire civilized world against this threat masquerading as religious war,” he added.

Nineteen people died during the Manchester Arena bombing last May 22 while eight others were killed during the June 3 London Bridge attack.

The Philippines, meanwhile, is grappling with the threat posed by the Islamic State-inspired Maute terrorists who mounted a series of attacks in the southern city of Marawi. 

The attacks prompted President Rodrigo Duterte to place the entire island of Mindanao under martial law, a declaration being challenged by his critics before the Supreme Court. A total of 138 militants, 45 government troopers and 21 civilians have died since the clashes started last May 23.  

“There is nothing godly about ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) and its cohorts in Europe and Asia. But with unity and resolve, the nations of the world will crush this scourge,” Abella said.

Abella noted that Ahmad called for an end to what he called the “cult of death” that stemmed from drug-related killings last September. The envoy also claimed last February that change has come in the Philippines but not in a good way as he cited the supposed extrajudicial killings of drug suspects.

Malacañang responded to the ambassador’s remark by wishing that diplomats “were more familiar with life beyond the rarefied atmosphere of gated villages.”

“But now, we welcome his (Ahmad) support. Perhaps the reason is the recent attacks in Britain,” Abella said.

Palace ready to defend martial law before SC

Duterte, who once warned the judiciary against interfering with his projects, has vowed to respect whatever decision the Supreme Court would make on his martial law declaration

“We defer to the other co-equal branches of government involved in the petition. We will reserve comment on this matter, except to repeat the President’s statement yesterday (June 9) that he will follow the Supreme Court’s decision,” Abella said.  

Abella said the executive branch is ready to provide information to the high court on the factual basis for martial law and the suspension of the privilege of writ of habeas corpus.

He maintained that the martial law declaration and the suspension of the privilege “were deemed necessary to combat and neutralize the threat to public safety and national security posed by terrorists seeking to supplant government authority in Marawi.”

“We await the Supreme Court’s decision, and we stand ready to comply with it in full,” he said.

RELATED: Martial law in Mindanao

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