Malacañang on Monday assured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte will respect any decision of the Supreme Court (SC) on his implementation of martial law in Mindanao.
Speaking to reporters, Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte will listen to the High Court and Congress but will have to rely on the military and the police to decide on extending or lifting of martial law.
“The President meant that those who really, are truly aware of the situation are the military and the police. This is not meant to bypass the Supreme Court or the legislative,” Abella said during Malacañang’s first “Mindanao Hour” news briefing.
“Of course he will respect [the Supreme Court]but based on his own considerations being Commander-in-Chief,” he added.
Under the 1987 Constitution, Congress has the power to revoke the proclamation of martial law and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
Congress will also determine the period of extension of such proclamation, if necessary.
The Supreme Court can also review the factual bases for the proclamation of martial law and make a decision within 30 days.
But Duterte on Saturday told soldiers in Jolo, Sulu that it will be up to the military to say if the Philippines is safe or if martial law should continue.
“I will not listen to others. The Supreme Court justices, the congressmen, they are not here,” the President said then.
But Abella said Duterte was only pointing out “that the one with accurate information regarding activities on the ground are the ones he will trust.”
“It simply means to say that those who have true and accurate report — and true and accurate report — in which he will depend on will be the military and the Philippine National Police,” he added.
“The President will listen actually but then at the end of the day as Commander-in-Chief, he deserves the right to make decisions. Of course, he is listening. He is a listening President,” Abella said.
The SC and Congress will also “be in dialogue” with the police and military and recommendations could be given.
“They should be in dialogue… They should be in conversation and they can continue to make decisions and they can continue to make recommendations,” according to Abella.
Pressed by reporters on the President’s statement, he said Solicitor General Jose Calida would also provide an explanation.
Duterte last week declared martial law in the entire Mindanao after some 50 members of the local terror group Maute took over Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
In his report to Congress, Duterte said he declared martial law to address the Maute Group’s attempt to take over Mindanao as a caliphate of the international terrorist group IS.
Abella said 61 terrorists, 19 civilians and 18 government security forces had been killed as of Sunday.
Forty-two of the terrorists were killed in firefights, while the remaining 19 deaths were confirmed by eyewitnesses, he added.
On the government side, he said, 15 soldiers and three policemen were killed in action, and 64 were wounded.
To date, Abella added, a total of P1,172,725.00 worth of assistance has been provided to affected families in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) through its regional agencies.
“As of today, there have been 12,509 families or 59,665 persons displaced in Regions X and ARMM, of which 1,018 families or 4,278 persons are still staying in 14 evacuation centers or staying outside the evacuation centers with their relative or friends,” he said.
Abella added that the DSWD Field Office Region 10 immediately placed a Disaster Operation Center in Iligan City on May 23 to augment the operation of the DSWD ARMM.
He reported that the Department of Trade and Industry on May 25 enforced a price freeze on basic necessities and prime commodities in Mindanao after martial law was declared by the President.
“The price freeze covers Regions 9, 10, 11, 12 and Caraga. The price freeze is implemented for a period of 60 days, as indicated in the declaration,” Abella said.
Meanwhile, according to him, the NPC Mindanao Generation declared that operations of power plants in the Marawi City and Lanao del Sur area are normal.
“As 10:20 a.m., May 28, 2017, the Lanao del Sur Electric Cooperative or Lasureco reported that: 1) The 1st District of Lanao del Sur comprising 15 municipalities is 100 percent energized; 2) The 2nd District of Lanao del Sur comprising 16 municipalities is 100 percent energized; and 3) Marawi City is 40 percent energized,” he said. CATHERINE S. VALENTE