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Duterte’s martial law quip splits solons

By: - Reporter / @TarraINQ
/ 05:49 AM August 12, 2016

President Duterte’s recent remark about possibly declaring martial law has split the Senate, with some solons asserting that martial law was no joking matter and others saying it was just the chief executive being himself.

Sen. Leila de Lima, chair of the committee on justice and human rights, thought it improper of lawmakers to consider the President’s remark a joke, pointing out how serious Mr. Duterte looked as he ranted against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.

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“If you ask me, it’s not right, because his tone was serious and he was talking about substantive matters. So why should we make light of that,” De Lima told reporters on Thursday.

Sen. Grace Poe said martial law should never be taken lightly.

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“I know his style, at least from what we’ve seen in the past. And even when he was still mayor, I heard him say a lot of controversial things, funny things sometimes, but controversial nonetheless. I think we should never trivialize anything such as martial law, specifically martial law,” Poe said in a television interview on Thursday.

De Lima, Poe and some colleagues reacted on Thursday to President Duterte’s rhetorical statement on Tuesday that maybe what Sereno wanted was that he declare martial law to fight the war on drugs, after she had written him a letter asserting the judicial branch’s independence.

Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon responded to chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo’s statement that the prevalence of illegal drugs could be enough grounds to declare martial law. (See related story above.)

Drilon, also a lawyer, said: “Even a freshman law student can easily debunk attorney Panelo’s statement as having no legal basis.”

“I do not know which Constitution he learned in law school but our present Constitution has only two grounds for the declaration of martial law—invasion or rebellion. A drug menace is definitely not one of them,” Drilon said.

Several senators, however, took up the cudgels for the President, saying the public should “get used to” his manner of speaking as it had long been Mr. Duterte’s style.

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TAGS: Martial law, Nation, News, Rodrigo Duterte, Senate
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