Duterte threat­ens to jail mar­tial law crit­ics

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte has threat­ened to jail crit­ics of his use of mar­tial law in the vi­o­lencewracked south, days be­fore the Supreme Court is set to rule on its le­gal­ity this week. Duterte de­clared mil­i­tary rule across the re­gion of Min­danao, home to about 20 mil­lion peo­ple, in late May to quell what he said was a fast-grow­ing threat from the Is­lamic State (IS) group there. The Philip­pine leader has in­sisted he would ig­nore the find­ings of the court, which has con­sti­tu­tional over­sight, vow­ing only to lis­ten to rec­om­men­da­tions from the armed forces.

“It’s not de­pen­dent on the whim of the Supreme Court. Should I be­lieve them? When I see the sit­u­a­tion is still chaotic and you ask me to lift it? I will ar­rest you and put you be­hind bars,” Duterte said in a speech be­fore local of­fi­cials on Satur­day. “We can talk of any­thing else and make com­pro­mises maybe but not when the in­ter­est of my coun­try is at stake.” Govern­ment forces are con­tin­u­ing to bat­tle mil­i­tants oc­cu­py­ing the city of Marawi, with aerial bom­bard­ment and fe­ro­cious street-to-street com­bat that has left some 400 peo­ple dead and forced nearly 400,000 peo­ple in the wider area to flee their homes.

Duterte has faced a back­lash from op­po­si­tion law­mak­ers, who last month asked the Supreme Court to re­ject the dec­la­ra­tion of mar­tial law, which they have slammed as un­con­sti­tu­tional. The 1987 con­sti­tu­tion im­poses lim­its on mar­tial law to pre­vent a re­peat of the abuses un­der dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos, who was de­posed by a fa­mous “Peo­ple Power” rev­o­lu­tion the pre­vi­ous year. The char­ter al­lows the Supreme Court to re­view the fac­tual ba­sis for pro­claim­ing mar­tial law, which is lim­ited to an ini­tial pe­riod of 60 days. If a pres­i­dent de­cides to ex­tend mar­tial law, congress can re­view and re­voke it.—AFP

MANILA: An ac­tivist hold an anti mar­tial law ban­ner dur­ing a protest at Mala­canang palace in Manila. —AFP

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