Sotto: Duterte ‘obligated’ to declare martial law If NPA attacks continue amid COVID-19
MANILA, Philippine — President Rodrigo Duterte would be “obligated” to declare martial law if “rebellion continues” amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, Senate President Vicente Sotto III said.
“If NPA (New People’s Army) attacks persist and therefore rebellion continues in the midst of the pandemic, the President is obligated to declare ML (martial law),” Sotto told reporters in a Viber message on Friday.
In a taped address, Duterte slammed the NPA for killing soldiers and for allegedly stealing supplies, and relief goods amid the pandemic.
Two soldiers were killed and three others were wounded in an encounter with NPA rebels during an aid distribution activity in Aurora province last Tuesday, the military said.
“Kaya ngayon ‘pag nagpatuloy kayo ng lawlessness niyo, patay dito, patay doon, maybe I will declare martial law because kayong mga NPA ang numero uno,” Duterte said in his televised address.
(If you continue with your lawlessness, killing here and there, maybe I will declare martial law because you NPAs are instigators)
“Kinukuha ninyo ang tulong sa tao pati supply pagkain nila. Kaya I am now warning everybody and putting notice on this sa Armed forces and sa pulis. I might declare martial law. And there will be no turning back,” he added.
(You are stealing the relief goods for the people, the supplies and food for them. That is why I am now warning everybody and putting notice to the Armed Forces and the police. I might declare martial law and there will be no turning back.)
Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, meanwhile, said declaring martial law “is the President’s decision subject to substantive requirements of the Constitution.”
The senator – who is one of Duterte’s closest allies in the Senate – cited a provision in the Constitution which states that the President “shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.”
“In case of invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it, he may, for a period not exceeding sixty days, suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or place the Philippines or any part thereof under martial law,” it added.
Any declaration of martial law is reviewed by Congress, Pimentel further noted.
“Congress reviews it also pursuant to the (Constitution). That (martial declaration) is part of Presidential powers. The review is part of Congressional powers,” Pimentel told reporters in a message.
“(Martial law) declaration can be location-specific,” he added.
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