'Bato' on Martial Law: PNP to back Duterte '101 percent'

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2017 12:43 PM

MANILA - Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Ronald "Bato" Dela Rosa reaffirmed Monday that cops will remain loyal to President Duterte even if the leader declares Martial Law.

"101 percent, by all means, we will support the President if he declares," Dela Rosa said in a mixture of English and local dialect.

The top cop, however, doubts that Duterte will impose totalitarian rule, adding that the President may have only floated the idea out of frustration over the illegal drug trade in the country.

And if the Duterte indeed declares martial law, Dela Rosa vowed that the PNP will not allow its Commander-in-Chief to abuse his powers.

Over the weekend, Duterte said he would impose martial law if the drug problem became "very virulent", just a month after dismissing as "nonsense" any suggestion he might do so.

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald dela Rosa. Albert Alcain, Malacanang Photo

"If I wanted to, and it will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law," he said.

"No one can stop me," he added, referring to the Supreme Court and Congress. "My country transcends everything else, even the limitations."

Duterte has made a brutal war on drugs a central pillar of his administration since he took office in the middle of last year.

Since July, more than 6,000 people have been killed in the anti-drug campaign, in both police operations and unexplained killings by suspected "vigilantes". More than 1 million drug peddlers and users have been arrested or have surrendered to authorities.

Last month, Duterte appeared to rule out any possibility he might declare Martial Law.

"That's nonsense. We had Martial Law before, what happened? Did it improve our lives now? Not at all," he said.

The Philippines endured a decade of Martial Law from the early 1970s and memories of campaigns to restore democracy and protect human rights are fresh in the minds of many people. -- With a report from Jeff Hernaez, DZMM; Reuters