Guevarra defends Duterte’s remarks, attributes them to exasperation

By Jeffrey Damicog

Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra yesterday (April 5) defended the remarks made by President Rodrigo Duterte who threatened critics of suspending the writ of habeas corpus, order their arrests and declare a revolutionary war.

Senior Deputy Executive Secretary Menardo Guevarra announces during a press briefing in Malacañang that the matter concerning the closure of the resorts in Boracay is currently one of the top priorities that are being discussed by the cabinet citing that it would not only concern the environmental aspect of the issue but the economic impact as well. (TOTO LOZANO/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN) Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra

Guevarra explained the President only showed his frustrations against endless criticisms over efforts being made for the best interest of the public.

“What I know, though, is that he is getting exasperated about endless roadblocks to his attempts to protect the people's interests,” Guevarra told reporters.

Duterte made the remarks Thursday night in response to Sen Franklin Drilon’s call for the administration to exercise caution in reviewing existing government contracts.

Guevarra reminded the President ordered the review of contract “that are perceived to be onerous to the government and the people.”

“Some critics warn him to be careful in doing so, as it may send wrong signals to investors, lenders, etc,” said the Secretary.

“The President gets angry because his intention in ordering such review is to protect the interests of the general public, not those of the rich,” he explained.

However, the remarks made by the President already drew flaks from critics.

Among them, National Union of People’s Lawyers (NUPL) President Edre Olalia called the threats as “authoritarian reactions of a leader intolerant of dissenting or divergent opinions.”

Olalio reminded “there is absolutely no legal, constitutional, and factual basis to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.”

“There is no other appropriate people’s reaction but to fight & fight we must against brute despotism clothed in legal garb,” he called on the public.