MALACANANG defended President Rodrigo Duterte over his remarks that he placed the entire Mindanao under martial law to avoid impeachment for neglecting his duty.
In a statement, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said that Duterte has the duty to safeguard the Philippines and to declare martial law in Mindanao to quell terrorism in the country.
“The President is merely saying that at the onset of the rebellion in Marawi, [the]situation has become critical, with the potential spillover of lawlessness and violent extremism to the rest of Mindanao, that necessitates the issuance of Proclamation 216,” Abella said.
He insisted that Duterte did not commit any impeachable offense for declaring martial law in the south.
“The President has not committed any impeachable offense, and there is no threat of impeachment that made him declare martial law in Mindanao,” Abella said.
“As President, he must faithfully serve and protect the Republic. Failure to act on such a critical condition in Marawi is considered an impeachable offense under betrayal of public trust,” he added.
Duterte, in a speech on Thursday in Marawi City, said avoiding impeachment was one of the reasons behind his martial law declaration.
“Because of the critical conditions as assessed by your military and the Defense department, I had to declare martial law. Otherwise, I would be the candidate for impeachment also,” Duterte said.
“Mas mabigat iyan, pwede akong maalis sa puwesto at nakakahiya [That’s more serious. I can be removed from office and that’s humiliating],” he added.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23, after the Maute extremist group attacked Marawi City that left hundreds killed and thousands of families displaced.
The death toll in the Marawi siege has risen to 571, as of July 20 — 427 terrorists, 99 government troops, and 45 civilians.