No compelling reason yet to declare martial law, says AFP

Chiara Zambrano, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2017 07:10 PM

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte salutes to the soldiers upon his arrival at the North Luzon Command (NolCom) Headquarters in Camp General Servillano Aquino in San Miguel, Tarlac City on December 11, 2016. Ace Morandante, Malacanang Photo

MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) on Monday said it does not see any compelling reason for President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law.

AFP spokesperson Brigadier General Restituto Padilla said the military has not yet made any recommendation to the president to declare martial law, noting that government troops are able to fulfill their mandate.

Padilla added, a declaration of martial law is a political decision.

Duterte on Saturday threatened to impose martial rule in support of his deadly war on drugs, three decades after the nation brought down a dictatorship via a "People Power" revolt.

"If I wanted to, and it (the illegal drugs problem) will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law if I wanted to. No one will be able to stop me," Duterte said in a speech on Saturday night.

The 71-year-old former prosecutor said the aim would be "to preserve the Filipino people and the youth of this land".

Duterte won elections in May last year on a pledge to wipe out illegal drugs, promising an unprecedented crackdown to stop the Philippines from becoming what he termed a narco state.

Duterte has raised the prospect of imposing martial law previously.
However, Saturday's comments were the most direct threat.

Martial rule would allow Duterte to use the military to enforce civilian law and detain people at length without charging them.

The Philippines last endured martial law during the 20-year rule of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was accused of plundering billions of dollars from state coffers and overseeing widespread human rights abuses.

Marcos declared martial law in 1972, invoking the threats of crime and a communist insurgency, and officially lifted it in 1981.

His rule ended in 1986, when millions took to the streets in the largely bloodless military-backed "People Power" revolt.

A new constitution drawn up in 1987 in an effort to avoid another dictatorship specified a single six-year presidential term.
It also said the president could impose martial rule for just 60 days and only to stop an invasion or a rebellion. 

Congress can revoke the measure within 48 hours while the Supreme Court can review its legality.

But Duterte, speaking to local businessmen in his southern home town of Davao city, warned he could ignore the 60-day limit.
"The 60-day (limit) will be gone," he said.

"And I'd tell you now, if I have to declare martial law, I will declare it -- not about invasion, insurrection, not about danger. I will declare martial law to preserve my nation –- period," he said. – with Agence France-Presse