PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has slammed magistrates of the Supreme Court, who doubted during oral arguments at the high tribunal whether there was actual rebellion in Marawi City and the rest of Mindanao when he declared martial law following the ISIS-inspired Maute Group attack.
The President, who emerged after an almost week-long absence from the public eye, also warned that the next time he declares martial law, it would be indefinite and be like the one during the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos’ regime.
Duterte’s martial law declaration covering Mindanao expires in July, unless extended by Congress. The declaration can also be invalidated if the Supreme Court rules in favor of pending petitions against it.
In his press briefing in Butuan City, the President insisted that if by any chance the need arises again to declare military rule, he would no longer consult or listen to anybody.
“If anything goes wrong, magdeclare ako ng martial law ulit, the second time around, if the people suffer, bombings ganon, ‘di na ko makinig maski kanino,” he said.
“If that rebellion burns Mindanao and other parts of the Philippines, and I’ll be forced to declare martial law again, this time I will do it on my own to preserve my nation. I will not consult anybody and there’s no telling when will it end. It could be a copycat of Marcos,” Duterte added, referring to the late President Ferdinand Marcos’nine-year military rule from 1972 to 1981.
Earlier, the President said that he was willing to withdraw his martial law declaration in southern Philippines if the high tribunal so orders.
“Kung magsabi ang Supreme Court na mali, I will withdraw... [Kapag] sabihin nila ngayon maghinto, hinto ako,” said Duterte Saturday.
On the doubting Thomas magistrates, the President said: “Itong mga justices pa, judges arguing terrorism lang ‘yun di rebellion... The terrorists are committing rebellion. The rebels are committing rebellion. Ano ba tingin mo? What do you want? They burn half of Mindanao before we can call it a true blue rebellion? It’s crazy”.
“Rebellion na ‘yun. Ngayon kung ayaw nila, okay ako. If they want, sabihin nila na there is no factual basis then I am ready to order the military to withdraw. And we will not move. Hayaan sila diyan kung kaya nila,” Duterte added.
Martial law opponents argue that terrorism does not constitute rebellion, saying the attacks on Marawi City stemmed from an armed resistance by the Maute Group to shield Abu Sayyaf leader and ISIS emir for Southeast Asia Isnilon Hapilon from an impending arrest.