Duterte: Martial law futile, will ‘burden’ the innocent

Pia Ranada
Duterte: Martial law futile, will ‘burden’ the innocent
'Okay na ako sa state of lawlessness,' President Rodrigo Duterte says in an interview with Rappler's Maria Ressa

MANILA, Philippines – Martial law is futile and will only “burden” the innocent, President Rodrigo Duterte said, as he dispelled fears that recent bombings in Cotabato and Leyte will persuade him to impose military rule. 

“As a lawyer, there really is no need for it because martial law would burden also the innocent people who are not into the cause for the declaration,” he said on Thursday, December 29, during a one-on-one interview with Rappler Executive Editor Maria Ressa.

Gusto mo lang ‘yan, mag-curfew (You just want to impose a curfew) and things like that. I am not up to it actually,” he said.

He described declaring martial law as an “exercise in futility” especially since he thinks his declaration of a state of lawlessness is enough to address the spate of violence in the country, drug and terror threats included.

Okay na ako sa (I’m okay with) state of lawlessness,” he said.

Declaring a state of lawlessness is the mildest form of executive power the Constitution has granted to the President. The second one is the power to suspend the writ of habeas corpus while the 3rd and strongest is the power to declare martial law.

The Philippine remains under a state of lawlessness after Duterte declared it following a deadly blast in Davao City that killed at least 14 people.

Dictatorial speaking style

Asked if he has plans to become a dictator, something he had promised in a 2015 interview with Ressa, Duterte said his dictatorial tendencies so far extend only to his way of speaking.

“The way that I run things now, can you sense a little bit of dictatorship? Ganoon ako mag-utos. Kita mo ako magsalita, pati ‘yung money laundering, sabi ko, ‘Putang ina kayo diyan, you better behave,'” he said.

(That’s how I issue orders. See how I speak, even to the Anti-Money Laundering Council, I said, ‘Sons of a whore, you better behave.)

In his interview with Ressa, Duterte repeated his preference for the 1935 Constitution where it was easier for presidents to declare martial law.

In the current Constitution, Congress must approve any extension of martial law while the Supreme Court can rule any martial law declaration as being without basis.

But what if one of the institutions disagree on his martial law declaration? He would have to side with one and go against another.

Eh ‘di mas malala (That’s even worse) because it would encourage me now to a dictatorship,” Duterte told Ressa.

The President has talked about declaring martial law frequently since he assumed office. Last October, he even said that the massive drug problem in the country tempts him to declare martial law.

Duterte acknowleged that the country is facing a terrorism threat with the Maute group recently attacking Mindanao. Dozens were also recently left dead with two successive blasts in North Cotabato and Leyte.

Authorities said that the attack in North Cotabato could be due to the arrest of Maute group members; While the Leyte explosion, Duterte said, was drug-related.

Palace spokesperson Ernesto Abella assured the public these attacks would not lead to martial law. – with reports from Patty Pasion/Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.