MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte warned he can declare a "Marcos copycat" version of martial law if the Supreme Court (SC) says there "is no factual basis" for military rule in Mindanao but violence eventually continues.
"If you want, if they say that there is no factual basis, then I am ready to order the military to withdraw," Duterte said on Saturday, June 17.
The President, however, said he will declare martial law "a second time" if "anything goes wrong" after such an SC decision.
"If that rebellion burns Mindanao and the other parts of the Philippines, and I'll be forced to declare martial law again. This time, I will do it on my own to preserve my nation. I will not consult anybody. And there is no telling when it will end," Duterte said.
"Then it could be a copycat of Marcos," he added.
The 1987 Constitution states that martial law should not initially exceed 60 days, and that any extension should be approved by Congress by a joint vote. Duterte allies dominate both houses of Congress.
'Terrorists are committing rebellion'
The President made his remarks as the SC is set to decide if there is sufficient factual basis to declare martial law in Mindanao. The High Court will release its decision on or before July 5. (READ: SUMMARY: SC oral arguments on martial law in Mindanao)
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao after clashes erupted between government troops and local terrorists in Marawi City.
In his interview with reporters on Saturday, Duterte called out justices "arguing" that the Marawi clashes can only be considered "terrorism" and not "rebellion."
"The terrorists are committing rebellion. The rebels are committing rebellion," Duterte said.
He added it is "crazy" to think that the terrorists should affect half of Mindanao "before we can call it a true-blue rebellion."
The President earlier said he would "follow" the High Court's decision on his martial declaration, hoping the justices would take into consideration the threat of the Islamic State or ISIS.
Duterte had warned as early as May 24 that martial law in Mindanao "will not be any different from what President Marcos did."
The long-time Davao City mayor known as "The Punisher" said then, "I'd be harsh." – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II is a senior reporter leading Rappler’s coverage of religion and foreign affairs. He finished MA Journalism in Ateneo and MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.