MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday hit critics of his decision to place Mindanao under martial law, saying his declaration was not his proudest moment.
"I am not proud of it. I am not happy because it indicates something, that there is a trouble," said the President in a speech at a military camp in Sultan Kudarat.
Duterte’s martial law proclamation had readily sparked fears that military abuses during the dictatorship of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos might happen again.
The President, however, said his critics should not liken him to “past leaders”, adding that he had no plans of using the martial law declaration to prolong his stay in power.
“Itong ibang political parties, pati ‘yung personalities, wala nang ginawa kung hindi mang-hanker, gaano katagal daw itong martial law at ano pa ba ang dapat gawin,” he said.
“Alam mo itong mga u*** na ‘to, they [were] trying to think that we in government are trying to perpetuate our self in power," he added.
Duterte made the assurance that his martial law declaration would not result in bloodshed.
“I think the Armed Forces and the Police would not aim for a war that would result in the killings of many lives,” he said.
“Wala ‘yan sa… i-diperensya mo kami sa ibang mga lider na dumaan. Hindi kami kasing t****** ninyo.”
Officials have many times allayed fears over Duterte's martial law declaration, citing safeguards in the 1987 Constitution.
Five petitions have so far been filed before the Supreme Court by Duterte’s political opponents and critics challenging his martial law declaration.
Two petitions are seeking to compel Congress to convene in a joint session to review the President’s declaration. Three other petitions are seeking the nullification of the proclamation due to questions on its basis.
The President placed Mindanao under martial law after clashes between government troops and extremists erupted in Marawi City on May 23.
The firefights happened as state forces attempted to arrest top Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon. Local terror groups had planned attacks days earlier, as seen in a video obtained by the military.
More than 200,000 residents have fled the city, while at least 209 have died, among them 134 terrorists, 45 troops and 30 civilians.