Palace downplays Duterte's threat vs martial law critics
MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang downplayed President Rodrigo Duterte's threat against critics of his martial law declaration, saying it was "strong language" meant to make a point.
"It's not a statement per se, 'papaarestuhin' ('have them arrested'), but it's just strong language," said Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Monday, July 3, during a Palace news briefing.
Abella said Duterte only threatened to arrest martial law critics in order to emphasize that he will do all in his power to bring stability back to Marawi City, ground zero of clashes between terrorists and government troops.
"Basically, this is just strong language he is using and he is very emphatic that he will continue facing the situation in Marawi," said the spokesman. (READ: Duterte creates task force in charge of Marawi rehab)
Duterte issued his threat days before the Supreme Court (SC) is set to rule on the validity of his martial law declaration.
Last Saturday, July 1, Duterte, in a speech in Digos City said he would throw in jail critics of his martial law proclamation since he believes the Mindanao situation is not yet safe to warrant its lifting.
"Otherwise, it's not dependent on the whim na punta kang Supreme Court, maniwala kaya ako? Tingin ko magulo pa, ipa-lift mo? Huhulihin kita, ipasok na tuloy kita sa kulungan," he said.
(Otherwise, it's not dependent on the whim of the Supreme Court. Will I believe you? If I think it's still chaotic and you want me to lift it? I'll have you arrested and placed inside a jail cell.)
The President had been explaining that he will only lift martial law if security officials advise him he should do so, based on the situation on the ground.
He previously admitted that while security officials didn't recommend that he declare martial law, he came to the decision upon hearing from them that the situation in Marawi City was "critical."
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said on Monday that he and other security officials will be coming up with their recommendation to Duterte on martial law "soon."
"He has said he will listen to us, listen to our recommendation whether it will be extended or not. We'll make our recommendation soon," said Lorenzana during a chance interview after the Monday press conference.
The recommendation of security officials will be based on Mindanao's security situation and the capability of all terror groups in the southern island to carry out attacks. Lorenzana, in particular, cited the threat posed by the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).
"We will look at…the capability of the enemy to launch more attacks, all, even BIFF. Let us not forget that BIFF is about more than 500 people who are armed. They can create trouble any time," said the defense chief.
Duterte's martial law proclamation enters its 42nd day on Monday. Because it is valid for only 60 days, martial law will end by July 22, two days before the President delivers his second State of the Nation Address. – Rappler.com