President Rodrigo Duterte will not be a “copycat” of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, a spokesperson for the chief executive said on Monday, June 19.
Undersecretary Ernesto Abella made the assurance in a Palace briefing amid fears of an escalation of human rights abuses after Duterte threatened to declare a second martial law if the Supreme Court would nullify the first one.
At the same time, Duterte said in a speech on Saturday, June 17, that he would be a copycat of the late dictator.
“It does not include at all reference to any human rights abuse,” said Abella in clarifying the president’s “copycat” statement.
Brigadier General Restituto Padilla, military spokesperson, also clarified the president’s statement.
“Well, definitely the president will not be referring to abuses. He may refer to the breadth and the depth of how to impose it but I guess it’s not because of the abuses,” said Padilla.
Duterte said in Butuan City that while he would abide by the Supreme Court ruling, he would declare a second martial law if public safety would require it.
Padilla also allayed fears of possible human rights abuses under martial law.
“You can see how the military is implementing martial law now, its complete regard for human rights and IHL (International Humanitarian Law) and the other protocols that have been established,” he said.
“So if there are any complaints, we are open to receiving those complaints and acting on it immediately,” he added.
He said the order of the president to ensure the lives of civilians has been the military’s guiding principle.
“He will always guarantee the safety of each citizen who are doing the right things and not the wrong things and not breaking the law,” he said.
Abella also cited the report of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR), saying they have not monitored any human rights abuses in Mindanao during the implementation of martial law.
“I think we need to take note of the fact that CHR just came out with a statement, that they have not seen, they have not been — there have been no human rights abuses,” he said.
If the Supreme Court decides to nullufy Duterte’s martial law proclamation, Padilla said military offensives against the Maute terrorists would continue even after the President said he would withdraw the troops in the conflict-torn city.
“Offensives will continue because there’s a threat that’s being faced. And it would be foolhardy to stop the fight because the martial law was lifted,” he said.
“So if there’s a threat to public safety, tuloy pa rin po. But the fight becomes increasingly hard because you cannot effect certain moves that will facilitate the taking care of some threats that area looming somewhere,” he added.
Abella said the military would withdraw from arresting suspected individuals without an arrest warrant if martial law would lifted and not necessarily to withdraw from the conflict area.
“They will withdraw from, for example, exercising the arrests without warrant,” he said.