Palace: No de facto martial law in Philippines
A fully-armed police officer patrols a residential area in Barangay Mauway in Mandaluyong CIty as the barangay is placed under "total lockdown" from May 11-13, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas, file

Palace: No de facto martial law in Philippines

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - September 21, 2020 - 5:10pm

MANILA, Philippines Malacañang yesterday disputed claims that the Philippines is under a "de facto martial law," saying President Rodrigo Duterte does not have the powers exercised by the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

"The context is very much different today. Before, Congress can be shut down. The Supreme Court can be shut down. Now, the president does not have that power," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a press briefing in Cagayan de Oro.

De facto means "in fact or effect."

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Roque noted that the president's decision to impose martial law can now be questioned before Congress and the judiciary. Both institutions backed the declaration of martial law in Mindanao from 2017 to 2019.

Members of Congress have also hinted at readiness to give the president emergency powers to solve various problems.

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"Dahil nga, natuto na tayo sa mapait na karanasan sa Martial Law (We have learned from the painful experience during Martial Law)," the Palace spokesman said.

Militant groups have accused Duterte of trying to establish fascist rule and of building a "virtual military junta of retired generals with bloody track records of human rights violations."

In a statement released during the 48th anniversary of the declaration of martial law, human rights group Karapatan claimed Duterte is "visibly desperate in tightening his grip on power as his last two years loom ahead."

The group also called the president a "wannabe dictator" who is "now pulling all strings to squash the fomenting united resistance to his fascist rule."

"In the middle of the worsening public health and socio-economic crisis, Duterte and his cabal have altogether discarded the people’s welfare in favor of exploiting the pandemic to further establish what can only be described as a de facto martial law," Karapatan said. 

The government's focus on the need for "discipline" to curb the spread of COVID-19 has seen curfews and restrictions in movement in Metro Manila. Gatherings are discouraged while protests are prohibited.

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