CABANATUAN CITY: President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday said he does not plan to place the country under military rule, but added he would stay quiet if he decides to do so.
In remarks during the 20th anniversary of the Premier Medical Center, Duterte said he found no reason or relevance for such declaration.
“I will not declare martial law. And if I declare martial law I will not make noise…it is not found in the Constitution. It is not written there,” the President said, as he cited a military statement that there was “no compelling reason” to impose martial rule in the country.
“But if I feel as a President that I have to preserve my country, I will declare martial law. But if you say it’s just to maintain peace and order, the military is correct, there is no compelling reason, really. But I will just fill you in as the days come. [The Islamic State] is coming in very fast and Mindanao is a pure case of rising nationalism,” he added.
The President pointed out that the 1987 Constitution allows any Filipino citizen to file a petition before the Supreme Court to question the basis for a martial law declaration.
He said that the framers of the 1987 Constitution “destroyed” the provisions on martial law because of their “hatred” for the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
Meanwhile, different opinions in Congress and the Supreme Court, co-equal branches of government, may produce a dilemma for the Executive, he pointed out.
“Who decides? Of course it’s the President…It will discourage me to become a despot because I now can interpret the law itself and it is final,” Duterte said.
Earlier, Duterte said he would declare martial law if the drug problem in the country becomes “virulent.” His communications chief, Secretary Martin Andanar, then hit the media for “misreporting” the President’s statement.
Duterte has repeatedly raised the idea of declaring martial law in his speeches, at times dismissing the need for
it and on certain occasions announcing his intention to use it to fight the drug menace.
Journalists covering Malacañang on Thursday cried foul over Palace officials’ claims that the media misreported President Duterte’s remarks on martial law.
In a statement, the Malacanang Press Corps. (MPC) said there was nothing wrong with the media coverage of the President’s remarks.
“We take exception to the statement of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar accusing the media of ‘misreporting’ President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about Martial Law. A review of the President’s speech last Saturday in Davao City would reveal that the media merely paraphrased or translated some of his remarks,” the MPC said.
“The media has no obligation to please or satisfy its sources because its loyalty is to the citizens, those who will be affected by the actions of people who are far more powerful than them,” the MPC said.