Legazpi City, Philippines (Nov. 14, 2016) – Malacanang Palace assured the public that Pres. Rodrigo Duterte has never mentioned declaring Martial Law in connection with his pronouncements on the suspension of the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
In a radio (Radyo Singko) interview, Monday morning, Sec. Martin Andanar of the Presidential Communications Office (PCO), said that “the thought never crossed the mind of the president.”
The secretary explained that the president’s remarks on the issue were made in the context of the rebellion and terrorist activities in Mindanao.
Andanar added that, “It is the belief that terrorist groups and other splinter groups in the southern section of this country are financed by the drug lords.”
He said that if the situation of lawless violence in Mindanao escalates, the president would have to consider suspending the Writ of Habeas Corpus.
The chief of the PCO clarified that the legality of the suspension would have to go through congress and the Supreme Court.
Andanar said that it is a “possible idea” considering that the issues of drugs and lawlessness in Mindanao seem to be connected.
He pointed out that despite peace efforts of the government with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) there are still cases of kidnappings not to mention the illegal activities of the Abu Sayaf.
He particularly mentioned the recent events involving a certain Commander Bravo.
He also cited that based on a list held by the president, thousands of government employees are involved in drugs spawning fears of a “narco-state” situation.
The government, he says, is hoping that things would improve.
“If it doesn’t, at least the president has an option.” Andanar said.
Public apprehension about the matter came at the heels of a recent decision by the Supreme Court allowing the burial of former Philippine president, Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Heroes’ Cemetery).
The former strongman held power for over two decades after declaring Martial Law in the 1970’s.
Families of victims of extra-judicial killings, torture and enforced disappearances during this period have yet to receive justice and compensation from the government.
President Rodrigo Duterte earned criticisms after announcing that he favored the burial of the former leader despite disagreements even from among his closest allies. (J. Garalde)