Palace allays martial law fears

MANILA – Malacañang on Wednesday allayed fears that President Rodrigo R. Duterte would declare martial law amid the intensified campaign against illegal drugs.

Presidential Communications Office (PCO) Secretary Martin Andanar said President Duterte was merely asking a rhetorical question when he hit back at Supreme Court (SC) Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno for interfering in his campaign against the drug menace.

”Ikaw [Sereno] ang kingpin sa judiciary. Ako, presidente. Ako may trabaho, ikaw wala. Walang mga judges na nagpa-patrol ng daan. Walang mga sheriff ninyo na naghuhuli. ‘Yan ang mabigat na problema ko, na-inherit ko sa dumaan (na administrasyon), pati ‘yung gobyerno na naglagay sa ‘yo diyan… If this continues, pigilan mo ako eh ‘di sige. ‘Pag nagwala na… or would you rather that I will declare martial law?” Duterte said in his speech in Cagayan de Oro City Tuesday night.

(“You [Sereno] are the kingpin of the judiciary, I am the president. I have a mission. Judges do not patrol the streets. You do not have sheriffs who get caught. That is the big problem that I inherited from the past administration, including the government that put you in place. If you continue to hold me back… or would you rather I declare martial law?” Duterte said in his speech in Cagayan de Oro City Tuesday night.)

”The President merely asked a rhetorical question and said it under the context that his anti-drug campaign cannot wait for the slow wheels of justice – Philippine style,” Andanar explained in his press statement on Wednesday.

President Duterte, he said, is an “action man”, who believes that justice delayed is justice denied.

”He is the type, who at the onset of his presidency, simply wants to hit the ground running and rid society of drugs, crime, and corruption with urgency,” he said.

The PCO chief added that President Duterte is working very hard to meet the drug menace “head-on” by removing fear among the people amid reports that 600,000 drug addicts have already surrendered to the authorities.

”The President has made use of executive powers at his disposal, knowing fully well the limits of these powers, and without undermining the constitutional separate of powers nor infringing upon the rights of citizens,” he said.

Andanar also defended the inclusion of the seven judges in the drug list that President Duterte announced early Sunday morning.

”When the President referred the named judges on his consolidated list to the Supreme Court, he was acknowledging the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court over the judges. He recognizes the separation of powers, and even asked the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court not to create a constitutional crisis,” he said.

”By calling out the names of the judges on the list, he is giving them every chance and opportunity to be prepared to defend themselves, clear their names if they are innocent, and alert the community of their involvement in drugs if they are guilty,” he added.

Andanar said not every Filipino would agree with the way President Duterte addresses the drug problem “but the President is putting his life, his honor, and the presidency at stake.”

”His love for the people is greater than his fear for his own life, or the fear of embarrassment, failure, or mistake,” he added.

Andanar explained that as a former prosecutor, the President believes in the rule of law and advocates judicial independence.

”As President, he has the sworn duty to uphold and defend the Constitution. The words and action of the President all point to these,” he said.

Andanar pointed out that the President’s primary concern is to deliver effectively what he has promised to the country’s more than 100 million people during his election campaign.

President Duterte has vowed to fight illegal drugs, criminality and corruption, saying his “would be a clean government”. Jelly Musico/PNA/