MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday sought to quell fears that he would soon declare martial law in the entire country, scoffing at comparisons to the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos as he asserted he had a different set of values.
“No nationwide martial law. Why? Because I will look stupid before the eyes of the public if I do that. And I don’t want to be called stupid,” Duterte said in a press conference after his State of the Nation Address.
He lashed out at critics who have compared him to the late dictator because of his declaration of military rule in Mindanao.
Congress on Saturday granted his request to extend his 60-day martial law declaration in Mindanao until the end of the year as firefights between state troops and Islamic State-linked terrorists in Marawi City entered its third month.
“Why do you have to compare me with Marcos? I’m not Marcos. I may not be as brilliant as Marcos but, definitely, I’m more attuned to my values in life,” said Duterte.
“Ang values ni Marcos is not necessarily mine just because there is martial law,” said the President, known to be friends with the Marcos family as his father Vicente worked under the strongman's cabinet.
The President also made the clarification after he said there was a “failure of intelligence” on government's part after extremists managed to stockpile weapons in Marawi City.
“There was a mistake in the evaluation or assessment,” he said.
Duterte placed all of Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after Islamist extremists led by the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups laid a siege on Marawi City in a bid to establish an Islamic State province in the Philippines.
Over 500, mostly terrorists, have died since the clashes erupted in the predominantly Islamic city.
Militant groups have slammed the martial law extension, citing supposed cases of human rights violations committed by soldiers in Mindanao.
The President, however, said some acts of the military cannot be considered human rights violations in the context of the martial law declaration.
“Those connected to the operations… there can never be a violation,” he said.