MALACAÑANG on Monday condemned as “irresponsible” reports that President Rodrigo Duterte would declare martial law “if he wants to.”
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar decried the media for “misreporting” the President’s remarks, saying Duterte was against martial law.
“The President has categorically said no to martial law. He even made a pronouncement saying that martial law did not improve the lives of the Filipinos. We therefore decry the latest misreporting that the President will declare martial law simply ‘if he wants to’ or that ‘no one can stop the President from declaring martial law,’” Andanar said in a statement.
“Such headlines sow panic and confusion to many. We consider this kind of reportage as the height of journalistic irresponsibility,” he added.
Andanar noted that Duterte was “clear” in saying he would only declare martial law “under the premise that the country has deteriorated into an utter state of rebellion and lawlessness.”
He said the President “recognizes” the limitations set by the 1987 Constitution in order to prevent abuse of martial law.
“As President, he recognizes the challenges and limitations set by our Constitution in declaring martial law but he would nonetheless act accordingly if it warrants the preservation of the nation,” Andanar said.
Reports have quoted Duterte as saying on Saturday before Davao businessmen that he would impose martial
law if the situation in the country became “very virulent.”
“If I wanted to, and it will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law. No one can stop me,” the President said, referring to the Supreme Court and Congress. “My country transcends everything else, even the limitations.”
But the President also called the idea of declaring martial law “stupid,” saying it did not improve the lives of Filipinos.
The martial law era under the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos was marred by human rights abuses like forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings, as well as a curtailed press and political opposition and corruption in government.