President Rodrigo Duterte will adhere to the rule of law, Malacañang reiterated on Wednesday, amid Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald de la Rosa’s call for possible extension of martial law in Mindanao.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte was still awaiting for the “full report” to be submitted by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and Armed Forces Chief of Staff Eduardo Año before he “initiates any action for the proposal of an extension of martial law and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.”
Lorenzana and Año are the administrator and implementor, respectively, of martial law in Mindanao.
“The President has repeatedly stressed that the Philippines abides by the rule of law, and extending martial law would be based solely on the assessment and recommendation of the military and the police,” Abella said.
“We assure all our citizens that the primordial consideration of our Commander in Chief is the national interest. He is also for the immediate restoration of the rule of law, peace, order, and the overall safety and well-being of our citizens not only in Marawi but in the whole of country,” he added.
Abella issued the statement after De la Rosa said on Tuesday that he would recommend a martial law extension if the President asked his opinion.
“It’s difficult to talk. I’m not the Senate spokesman. I was asked personally what will be my recommendation based on my assessment of the situation,” de la Rosa told reporters.
“Extend (but) within the legal framework. I will recommend the maximum (period),” he added. “Because it is still dangerous in that area (Marawi City).”
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, after the fighting in Marawi City broke out.
The siege entered its 50th day on Wednesday, with almost 500 people killed and thousands of residents displaced.
The 60-day declaration period will end on July 22, and some lawmakers are pushing for the five-year extension of martial law.
The Constitution states that “upon the initiative of the President, the Congress may, in the same manner, extend such proclamation or suspension for a period to be determined by the Congress, if the invasion or rebellion shall persist and public safety requires it.”
Duterte himself said he would not lift martial law before his second state of the nation address.