MANILA - The camp of Vice President Leni Robredo on Thursday denied amplifying fears of a return to martial rule under President Duterte, but maintained that the latter's recent statements on its possible reimposition is a serious issue.
Robredo's spokesperson, Georgina Hernandez, claimed Duterte himself heightened the public's concern when he floated the idea of authoritarian rule.
"Vice President Leni Robredo did not intend to make it appear that President Duterte was going to declare Martial Law. President Duterte did that himself," she said in a statement.
"Every time President Duterte has been called out on his comments, it is either dismissed as a joke or said to be taken out of context."
The specter of an authoritarian regime, she added, is not a "laughing matter."
"The threat of Martial Law and the desire for a one-man rule can never be a laughing matter. Nor can the threat be exaggerated," stressed Hernandez.
Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella earlier accused Robredo of fanning the fears of martial rule by condemning Duterte's suggestion that its declaration should be the sole prerogative of the president instead of Congress.
"The Vice President Leni seems to have amplified the concerns and seems to make it appear as if the President was actually planning on doing it," Abella said at a Tuesday press briefing.
Hernandez, however, insisted, "No matter what is thrown at us, we will stand fast in defending our freedom and our rights as Filipinos."
"We will never allow Martial Law to happen again. The sooner this message sinks in, the better for all," she added.