By Argylle Cyrus Geducos
Malacañang laughed off suggestions that President Duterte was taking advantage of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to declare martial law in the entire country.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque made the statement after President Duterte warned on Friday that he will declare martial law if the lawlessness of the New People’s Army (NPA) will not stop during the national health emergency triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his Monday press briefing, Roque denied that Duterte was taking advantage of the global health crisis.
“Nakakatawa po ‘yan dahil hindi lang naman sa Pilipinas ang merong pandemic (It’s laughable because the pandemic is not only in the Philippines),” he said.
Roque reiterated that Duterte will only declare martial law if the NPA will not stop attacking the police and soldiers. However, he explained that President Duterte will not be violating the Constitution if he would decide to declare martial law.
“Ang martial law ay gagamitin kapag nagpatuloy po ang NPA doon sa kanilang pag-atake sa sundalo, lalong-lalo na yung mga sundalo na nagbabantay lang naman sa mga nagbibigay ayuda sa ating mga taumbayan (Martial law could be declared if the NPA will continue attacking our soldiers, especially those escorting the officials giving out the assistance to the people),” he said.
“‘Yan po ay nasa Saligang Batas. Wala pong pinagsasamantalahan ang Presidente dahil ang kanyang batayan naman ay Saligang Batas mismo (That is under the Consitution. The President will not be taking advantage of anything because his basis is the Constitution),” he added.
On Sunday, Roque reiterated that President Duterte will not hesitate to declare martial law if the NPA will not cease from committing lawless acts.
“‘Pag hindi sila tumigil sa pag-atake at pagkuha ng mga ayuda na binibigay ng gobyerno sa taumbayan, ay mapipilitan siya mag-martial law (If the NPA won’t stop attacking our troops and stealing the assistance given by the government for our people, the President will be forced to declare martial law),” Roque said.
In a taped address aired Friday, President Duterte threatened to declare martial law in the country if the “lawlessness” of the NPA continues.
“‘Pag nagpatuloy kayo ng lawlessness niyo (If your lawlessness continues), and it is happening all over the Philippines, maybe I will declare martial law,” he said, renewing his vow to “finish” all members of the communist group before his term ends in 2022.