MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday asserted that he would not declare martial law in the whole country, as he lashed out at critics for comparing him to the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos.
In a press conference after his State of the Nation Address, Duterte said that there is no reason for declaring martial law in the entire Philippines since it could only be done “if there is a revolution everywhere and anywhere.
“No nationwide martial law. Why? Because I will look stupid before the eyes of the public if I do that. And I don’t want to be called stupid,” Duterte said.
After Duterte declared the whole of Mindanao under martial law when fighting broke out between extremists and government forces on May 23, critics have voiced fears he might expand it across the country.
On Saturday, Congress granted Duterte’s request to extend his 60-day martial law declaration in Mindanao until the end of the year as the battle of Marawi continued to rage.
But Duterte pointed out that even with martial law, civil and political liberties were not impaired except in places where curfew is being enforced.
“You can do everything in Davao or elsewhere, except in the places where there is a curfew. Nobody can force you to do a thing. We are allowed to live there in peace. Nobody but nobody has been forced to do anything against his will,” he said.
“The only thing we could say as an impairment of those civil and political rights is that you have to go home at 12 (midnight) because at 12, iba ang bakbakan (the fighting is different). And they might not see you clearly if you are a civilian or an enemy. It is really for your own good,” he said.
He likewise scoffed at insinuations that there would be a repeat of 1972 events and to being compared to the late strongman.
“You have seen it for one month now. May nakita ka bang tangke dito? Mga sundalo (Have you seen tanks here? Soldiers)? Do you see any uniformed military outfits roaming the streets there?” he said.
“Why do you have to compare me with Marcos? I’m not Marcos. I may not be as brilliant as Marcos but, definitely, I’m more attuned to today’s values in life. Ang values ni Marcos is not necessarily mine just because there is martial law,” Duterte said.