PNP CHIEF SAYS MILITARY RULE UNLIKELY
By Mario J. Mallari and Joyce Rocamora
The martial law yarn got a new spin yesterday with Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald de la Rosa saying he will support President Duterte “101 percent” if he ever decides to declare martial law.
De la Rosa, however, told reporters he expressed doubts if the President will ever opt to actually impose martial law.
Last Saturday, in a speech before businessmen in Davao City, Mr. Duterte again broached the martial law option saying that he will consider it if the drugs problem becomes “virulent.” He added that neither Congress nor the Supreme Court can stop him from imposing ML “if he wanted to.” “If I wanted to, and it (drugs problem) will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law if I want to. No one will be able to stop me,” Duterte said his speech.
“101 percent by all means we will support the President if he declares but I doubt if he will do that. He just said that because of (his) frustration,” said de la Rosa.
“But if ever he will coem up with that option, that is an option left to the Chief Executive…we will really support him,” he added.
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III, meanwhile, said Mr. Duterte was “legally correct that the power to declare martial law belongs to the president” but he added it will still be in accordance to the Constitution.
An ally of the president, Pimentel defended Mr. Duterte, saying that as a lawyer himself, he is accustomed to the law where technicalities in defining the process in declaring Martial.
“Don’t be alarmed about a lawyer-president discussing his power which is clear under the Constitution,” he added noting that the president only expressed that he has the power to declare it.
Saying Mr. Duterte’s statement remained hypothetical, Pimentel the public should not fear his statement.
“Don’t worry, the president has the power to declare martial law, it’s found in the Constitution and all other safeguards are found in the Constitution, So don’t worry about that legally correct statement from the president,” he added.
While Pimentel downplayed the issue, Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon said Mr. Duterte should exercise prudence in making statements that are capable of causing fear and tension.
“The truth is, mere talk of martial law is enough to send chills on the spine of any Filipino. Therefore, it is something that should not be taken lightly,” he noted.
Referring to Malacañang’s communications team, Drilon also defended the media whom the Palace accused of “misreporting” Duterte’s remarks.
“The reports were based on the President’s speech and the statements were quoted verbatim. We should not blame the press for reporting what the President said,” Drilon said.
Under the 1987 Constitution, declaration of martial law is only allowed on two conditions: when there is actual invasion or rebellion and when public safety requires it.
Under this, there are guarantees that the Congress has the authority to revoke it, and the Supreme Court to review it.
Taking a clear note of these premises, Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said there is no basis to declare Martial Law.
“Rebellion has been tamed. No foreign army is steaming toward our shores to invade us. And as the President himself likes to brag, crime is down and the people are safe in their homes and communities,” he said.
Urging the government to address the real problem instead, he said particular issues like joblessness, hunger and poor social services should be the administration’s top priorities.
When it comes to eradicating illegal drugs, Sen. Bam Aquino said the government can learn from Gawad Kalinga’s anti-drug program.
“Thanks to this anti-drug program, 90 percent or 1,800 out of its 2,000 communities are drug-free through community empowerment and accountability,” he said.
Taking the statement seriously, Sen. Antonio Trillanes said as the country’s leader, Duterte should have been more considerate in every word he says.
Trillanes also accused the President of trying to condition the public’s mind, adding “we should be well prepared for it.”
De la Rosa no ML fan
Dela Rosa, at the same time, assured that as a victim of martial law himself, he will not allow similar abuses as what was alleged on state forces during the military rule under former President Ferdinand Marcos.
The chief PNP remembered how he, along with some companions, was threatened by members of the defunct Philippine Constabulary (PC) after being caught along the streets after curfew hours.
He said they were made to line up in front of a machine gun by drunken PC elements. However, they were later allowed to go home.
Dela Rosa also recalled that his father was also a victim of martial law.
“I know how harsh martial law is if it is abused by the authority,” said dela Rosa.
“I will do everything so that it will not be abused, I will make sure that it will not be abused,” he vowed.
On Saturday, the President warned anew that nobody can stop him from declaring martial law if he wanted to.
Duterte issued the warning a few days after a survey showed that 74 percent of respondents reject the necessity of military rule to solve the country’s problems, particularly the illegal drugs menace.
Duterte has raised the prospect of imposing martial law previously but Saturday’s comments were the most direct threat.
The 71-year-old former state prosecutor said the aim would be “to preserve the Filipino people and the youth of this land.”
Since assuming the presidency, Duterte has waged an all-out war against illegal drugs, through the PNP.
According to Duterte, there are at least three million drug addicts in the country. So far, more than a million illegal drug users and pushers have surrendered to the PNP since July.
Like the menacing swing of a pendulum blade.
Thus described Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman the latest threat of President Duterte to impose Martial Law.
As a pendulum blade swings back and forth, so does Duterte’s mind when it comes to the issue of whether or not to declare Martial Law, according to Lagman.
“At one instance he would manifest a desire to declare martial law. At another instance, he would profess that he would not declare martial law and calls any such declaration stupidity,” said Lagman.
“Then he announces that he wants the removal of the oversight powers of the Congress and the Supreme Court, which delimit and revoke a presidential declaration of martial law,” the solon added.
“Now he says that no one can prevent him from declaring martial law if the drug problem becomes virulent and he would even transcend constitutional limitations,” Lagman stressed.
Lagman rebuffed Duterte saying no amount of virulence of the drug menace can be a constitutional anchor for the imposition of martial law.
Aside from heeding the restrictions of the Constitution, Lagman said Duterte must also respect the overwhelming consensus of the people, 74 percent of whom say in a recent nationwide survey that they are against the revival of martial law to solve the nation’s pressing problems.
Meanwhile, House Committee on Justice chairman, Mindoro Oriental Rep. Reynaldo Umali came to the defense of the president saying that while it is true Martial Law can only be declared in case of invasion, rebellion or when public safety requires it, Duterte might be talking about the possible parallelism of the situation between the Philippines and Colombia with regard to narco-politics.
“When you have many Governors, many Mayors, even police, even judges succumbing to the pressures of narco-politics, then perhaps in that sense, the declaration of war against drugs may be viewed (as a basis for declaring Martial Law),” Umali told reporters during a press briefing.
“But at this point, I do not know what is in the mind of the President and how he views the problem on drugs. But in so many instances where he stated, I think, in most of his press conferences, he has been talking continuously about the drug problem,” Umali said.
He added Duterte has been taken out of context when he said no one can stop him in declaring Martial Law.
Umali said that while the president might have said that, it was in the premise of a president doing everything in the furtherance of his duties but the constitutionality of which may still be questioned in court.
“I think what he said was ‘take me to court. I may do things, I can do this, I can do that and then of course ultimately, the rule of law will prevail,’” said Umali.
Palace blames media
Mr. Duterte, according to the Palace, did not make any threat of imposing martial law in his recent speech.
Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said his strongly worded statements that nobody can stop him from imposing martial rule were “misreported.”
“We decry the latest misreporting that the President will declare martial law simply ‘if he wants to’ or that ‘no one can stop the President from declaring martial law.’ Such headlines sow panic and confusion to many. We consider this kind of reportage as the height of journalistic irresponsibility,” Andanar said in a statement.
“The President has categorically said no to martial law. He even made a pronouncement saying that martial law did not improve the lives of the Filipinos,” Andanar said.
In the recorded speech of Mr. Duterte, however, he clearly said that he sees declaring Martial Law as an option to boost his campaign against the narcotics problem.
“And I woud ell you now, if I have to declare martial law, I will declare it even without invasion, insurrection – it’s not about danger. I will declare martial law to preserve my nation –- period,” he said.
“He mentioned declaring martial law only under the premise that the country has deteriorated into an utter state of rebellion and lawlessness,” Andanar, however, said.
“As President, he recognizes the challenges and limitations set by our Constitution in declaring martial law but he would nonetheless act accordingly if it warrants the preservation of the nation,” he added.
Meanwhile, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said on radio there is nothing wrong if Mr. Duterte declares martial law, as he allayed fears of a dictatorial rule.
“I think the message of the President is very clear. It is as he said, “if.” It is when “if” the situation warranted it. He is telling us the reality on the ground. If it becomes virulent, then it is his duty - constitutional duty to declare martial law,” Panelo said. Charlie V. Manalo, Ted Tuvera, Gerry Baldo
Tuesday, 17 January 2017 00:00 Published in Headlines
By Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
Fund assistance originally intended for health sector reforms and technical aid is being considered for reallocation to boost the Philippine government’s fight against illegal drugs, European Ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen yesterday said.
While President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on narcotics is being criticized as excessively disproportionate to the country’s actual problems with drugs by local and international human rights communities, Jessen, in an interview, stressed there are numerous discussions going on between the 28-member bloc and the government, including the cooperation in addressing drug concerns and the feasibility to realign the grant based on European practices.
“We have a lot of ongoing discussions internally and also with the administration now (on) how to create a system,” he said.
EU fund assistance to the Philippines reaches P3 billion annually, with the bulk of the amount going to the health sector.
“We are trying to see if we should change the funding and focus more on the drug issue which is a key project for the government,” Jessen said.
“It’s a question of a change in funds within the health sector toward the drug issue.”
He added the Philippines and the EU are part of the international community where “we learn from each other, we share experiences and we work together to address shared problem.”
The bloc, in a resolution issued last October, raised concern over the high number of drug suspects killed by police and vigilantes in the Philippines since President Duterte launched a crackdown on the illegal trade upon taking office last June 30.
But the President defended his position, saying: “If I do not do anything, I will have a big problem in my country. It will become a failed state...”
The envoy, however, stressed the EU remains committed in working with the country.
According to Jessen, the 28-member bloc is now working with the Department of Health (DoH) to see how it can support the government’s best practices to ensure that drug dependents can get the treatment they deserve.
“We have ongoing discussions with the administration with regard to creating a system for half-way houses to make sure that former addicts are integrated into the society without returning to their drug habit,” he added.
Jessen also said the EU is also working at the best way it can work with the government with respect to the judicial system of the country by promoting community policy and to share the European experience in this area.
“That is not to fight crime but to make sure that crime does not happen in the first instance,” he stressed.
Implementing a “non-interference” policy in talks of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is unlikely to be followed, so-called experts yesterday said.
President Rodrigo Duterte the other day noted that the upcoming Asean activities will be anchored on the group’s non-interference rule.
“I call on Asean dialog partners to renew their dedication to the valued purposes and principles stated in the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation, including non-interference, in promoting regional peace and stability through abiding respect for the rule of law,” he said during the launching ceremony of the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) 2017 last Sunday in Davao City.
As stated in Article 2 of the treaty, “high contracting parties” are “guided” to observe “the right of every State to lead its national existence free from external interference, subversion or coercion.”
Noting the President’s remarks, former National Security Adviser Roilo Golez, however, said in real politics, “everybody will try to push his own agenda, whether small power or big power, especially big power.”
He added there are a number of forums that other states can influence such as the Asean Regional Forum, Asean Plus 3 and Asean Plus 6 where non-members of the bloc will be present, including world superpowers the United States and China.
Golez said should incoming US President Donald Trump show up, there’s a big possibility that he would influence things there. “(Chinese President) Xi Jinping will also be there, so there will always be power plays and it’s not good to say please don’t meddle, they meddled in Cambodia first, then Laos,” he stressed.
Former Undersecretary for Defense Affair Antonio Santos, for his part, pointed out that: “In this occasion, we can’t prevent interfering.”
He said the bloc remains disunited given the fact that some member-states that have enjoyed economic privilege from powerful states surfaced prejudicial in coming up with a statement in the past.
“Asean as an institution is still young. It takes time to change views, align views and all the things,” he stressed.
Meanwhile, a Palace official yesterday said the launching of the Philippines’ chairmanship of the Asean was a success.
“I would love to say that it was successful. It’s difficult to praise own deeds but it went smoothly and peaceful,” presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said.
He added all other Asean member-countries — Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam have sent their respective representatives.
Also, ambassadors from China, Russia and other countries were present during the launching spearheaded by no less than President Duterte.
“Foreign dignitaries appreciated the preparations of the Asean National Organizing Committee, including our PCOO office,” Andanar said.
According to him, the objective of the Philippines as host is to further strengthen and unite the Asean organization to create big impact in the world in terms of economic growth.
“This year, we will focus on people-oriented projects, improve our health services, peace and stability, counter-terrorism, maritime security cooperation, climate change, inclusive and innovative-led growth and to help people to be productive through micro enterprises,” Andanar said.
“We will continue to promote the Asean resiliency, as model of regionalism and as big bloc when it comes to population and economy. And the Asean itself stands on three legs or three posts. First post, would be the political; second, would be the economics; and number three, it would be the socio-cultural,” he stressed. Joyce Ann L. Rocamora
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