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AFP on Duterte’s Marcos-type martial law:  Similar in scope but sans abuses

There will be no repeat of the human rights violations under Ferdinand Marcos when President Rodrigo Duterte declares a second martial law, Malacañang said on Monday.

Duterte on Saturday warned that if would declare another martial law, it would be indefinite and would be similar to the infamous martial law of the late dictator.

Armed Forces of the Philippines spokesperson Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla Jr. on Monday said that Duterte could have referred to the scope of Marcos’ Proclamation No. 1081, placing the entire nation under the martial law from September 1972 to January 1981.

“Well, definitely the President will not be referring to abuses. He may refer to the breadth and the depth of how to impose it but I guess it’s not because of the abuses,” Padilla said during the Mindanao Hour.

Padilla said the military is making sure human rights are not violated during the current implementation of martial law in Mindanao, based on Duterte’s Proclamation No. 216.

“You can see how the military is implementing martial law now, its complete regard for human rights and IHL [International humanitarian law] and the other protocols that have been established. So if there are any complaints, we are open to receiving those complaints and acting on it immediately,” Padilla said.

“And that is also one of the instructions of the President previously that you also may have heard that he must ensure we are able to protect and save lives,” he added, referring to Duterte’s statement that law-abiding citizens need not worry about martial law.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said as much.

“It does not include at all, reference any human rights abuse,” Abella said, stressing the statement attributed to the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) that there had been no human rights abuses reported in Mindanao since martial law was declared.

“I think we should take that in context and I agree with what the General said that the President is talking about the length and breadth and the depth of the efforts to be placed through martial law, especially because his first and last consideration regarding ML is public safety,” he added.

For the AFP’s part, Padilla said soldiers would always “guarantee the safety of each citizen who are doing the right things and not the wrong things and not breaking the law.”

Duterte's martial law declaration currently placed over Mindanao expires in July, unless extended by Congress.

The declaration may also be invalidated if the Supreme Court rules in favor of pending petitions against it.

During a press briefing in Butuan City, Duterte said that he was willing to withdraw his martial law declaration in southern Philippines if the high tribunal orders so.

"Kung magsabi ang Supreme Court na mali, I will withdraw... [Kapag] sabihin nila ngayon maghinto, hinto ako," said Duterte, who emerged after an almost week-long absence from the public eye.

The President, however, said that if by any chance, the need arises again to declare military rule, he would no longer consult or listen to anybody.

"If anything goes wrong, magdeclare ako ng martial law ulit, the second time around, if the people suffer, bombings ganon, 'di na ko makinig maski kanino," he said.

"If that rebellion burns Mindanao and 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's no telling when will it end. It could be a copycat of Marcos," Duterte added, referring to the late strongman's nine-year military rule from 1972 to 1981. —NB, GMA News