PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has no plans of declaring martial law nationwide amid growing protests against his administration’s war on drugs, alleged extrajudicial killings, and military rule in Mindanao, Malacañang said on Thursday.
In a television interview, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte declared Thursday a “National Day of Protest” to allow people to express their grievances as part of their constitutional rights.
“Again and again, inuulit niya, hindi yan ang patutunguhan natin (he has said repeatedly that that is not the road we are going to take). Only yung sinabi lang, katulad nung sinabi niya na (He only said that) he’s allowing the protest, huwag lang malaglag sa (as long as they do not lead to) violence and destruction of property, in which case the response will be firm,” Abella said during an interview with GMA 7 morning show “Unang Hirit.”
“Pero kung nagsasabing pinaplano niyang mag-martial law, hindi po (But if people are speculating that martial law is in the works, no),” the Palace official added.
On Saturday, September 9, Duterte warned that he would impose martial rule in the entire country, if the communist rebels would carry out insurgency on the streets.
But Abella said the President has been trying to reach out to the communist group.
“In fact, simula’t sapul po (from the very beginning), the President has tried to reach out to just about everybody, left to right. And again, he (has) a rainbow Cabinet, including the left, including the right, top to bottom,” Abella said.
“Simula’t sapul po, the President has been very, very inclusive and one thing to give a comfortable life for all. In other words, damang-dama po ng President ang hinaing ng tao (the President really feels the grievances of the people), and again and again, he’s against corruption, crime and abuses,” he added.
Duterte placed the entire island of Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after Islamic State-inspired terrorists from the Maute group laid siege to Marawi City.
He had vowed to be harsh against terrorists, even claiming that the martial law he imposed on the island would be no different from the one declared by former president Ferdinand Marcos, whose presidency was tainted by allegations of human rights violations.
On Tuesday, President Duterte signed Proclamation 319, declaring September 21 as a “National Day of Protest.”
Duterte said the proclamation was “in solidarity with the people’s call against all excesses and shortcomings of the government and with the people’s desire to uphold the highest standards of integrity, efficiency and accountability in government.”
The declaration coincides with the commemoration of 45th anniversary of martial law implemented by Marcos.
Duterte, in his proclamation, said he acknowledged the public’s fears of possible “repetition and perpetuation” of human rights abuses during the Marcos regime.
“The martial law era that began with the promulgation of Proclamation No. 1081 (s. 1972) has imprinted itself in the collective memory of the people as a time attended by the commission of gross human rights violations, arbitrary state interventions, rampant corruption, and disregard of fundamental civil liberties,” the President said.
“This administration recognizes the fear and indignation of the people against a repetition and perpetuation of such human rights violations and all other failings of the government,” he added.