Inauguration of Duterte’s Dictatorial Rule
Despite this, Duterte is not considering lifting martial law soon, instead he is thinking of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayan regions.
It is finally out; Proclamation No. 216 was Rodrigo Duterte’s lone act. On the basis of information from sources that only Duterte knows, unverified and false news, his wild mind created a rebellious and secessionist situation in Marawi City. This scenario was drawn from a security operation by military and police elements who were on a mission to capture Abu Sayyaf leader, Isnilon Hapilon at around 2PM of May 23. The wanted man, with $5M reward for his head, was sighted earlier, together with around 15 armed guards in Barangay Basak Malulut, Marawi City.
The operation failed as the armed bodyguards of Hapilon, believed to members of the local terrorist Maute Group were able to resist and the situation worsened. The Maute group and the military sent-in reinforcements. The Maute fighters were estimated to have reached from 50 - 100 men, but the military and police had overwhelming superiority in number and arms.
This was the kind of situation that Duterte warned earlier, could “push” him to declare martial law. Indeed, Duterte seized the opportunity. He painted a picture of armed uprising from a situation that was declared under control by the military, police and local government by late in the evening.
The key word to create this picture is the alleged “ISIS links of the Maute Group”. Despite official intelligence reports saying there is no basis to establish this allegation, Duterte proceeded to compose Proclamation No 216, declaring a “state of martial law and suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the whole of Mindanao”.
Right after martial law declaration was announced by Duterte’s spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in Moscow, Russia, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told media, “only Duterte knows about the ISIS connection, but nevertheless we have to help the president now”.
Based on a tale of conflicting real and false news and lies
A few hours before the announcement of martial law declaration, National Security Adviser, Hermogenes Esperon and Defense Sec. Lorenzana told media in Moscow, “The situation in Marawi is under control”.
Despite this and official reports that the situation in Marawi City was under control, reports and rumors of unverified, false and real incidents from 2pm to around 9 pm of May 23 were summed up by Duterte to provide the basis for martial law proclamation as, …“thereby attempting to remove from the allegiance of the Philippine Government that part of Mindanao and deprive the Chief Executive of his powers and prerogatives to enforce the laws of the land and to maintain public order and safety in Mindanao, constituting the crime of rebellion;
“WHEREAS, this attempt shows the capability of the Maute Group and other rebel groups to sow terror and cause death and damage to property not only in Lanao del Sur but in other parts of Mindanao.”
One hour after the proclamation, AFP public affairs chief, Col. Edgard Arevalo announced, the situation in Marawi has “stabilized” and “security forces are in full control“. The AFP made clear that the forces they were facing are not members of ISIS but of a local terrorist group. Arevalo also warned, “The news being circulated by these terrorists and their sympathizers are spurious and are meant to spread lies and disinformation. It is propaganda to attract foreign terrorists’ support and recognition.” This seemed to be also a warning to Duterte.
The spokesperson also belied reports that Amai Pakpak Hospital and the Marawi City Hall was occupied by Maute Group members.
It was proven during and after Duterte’s press conference upon his arrival from Russia, the incidents mentioned in the proclamation did not actually happen, specifically the “occupation of Amai Pakpak Hospital” and “burning of government facilities”. Another wrong information that Duterte blurted before media was the “killing and beheading” by Maute terrorist of Malabang Police Chief, Romeo Enriquez.
Nonetheless, Duterte also told, in less than 24 hours since martial law in Mindanao was proclaimed while he was in Russia, that his martial law would cover the whole country even if mere sign or clue of terrorist presence in Visayas and Luzon is established.
Despite all the boo-boos and dis-information contained in Proclamation no. 216 and the President’s report on martial law, the leaders of both houses of Congress, who are proving themselves as Duterte’s minions, were hell-bent not to fulfill their constitutional duty to review the martial law proclamation. Instead they passed separate resolutions, the house by viva voce voting and the senate through the majority bloc excluding two, supporting Duterte’s martial law.
They are dangerously clearing the way for Duterte’s obsession for absolute rule that could spell the closure or the transformation of Congress as Duterte’s “rubber stamp”, as the leaders of the legislature are proving now
Duterte’s inauguration of his own brand of dictatorial rule
Other than Duterte himself, the subservience of leaders of Congress to Duterte’s dictates and whims is the greatest threat to democracy and the rights of the Filipino people, presently. It is ironical now that more than the command of the AFP, the leaders of Congress are ready to abandon their duties and violate the 1987 Constitution.
The AFP has been more objective and prudent with their statements so as not to create fear and send wrong message about the real situation. The DND and AFP have been consistently referring to the terrorist Maute Group as “ISIS inspired” not “ISIS-linked” as Duterte asserts and that soon the situation in Marawi will be back to normal”, implying therefore that martial law should be lifted soon.
They assure the public that the AFP “will enforce its mandate in accordance with the laws and with respect to human rights and the International Humanitarian Law.” The AFP command, as exemplified by the statement of Western Mindanao Command, consistently refers to the 1987 Constitution unlike Duterte who deliberately rejects it.
In the Facebook Live interview by Presidential Communications Assistant Secretary, Mocha Uson on his way back to Manila from Moscow, “my martial law will be no different from Marcos’ martial law. I will be harsh”.
This statement is unmindful of the fact that the 1987 Constitution states, the constitution operates even during martial law. Specifically the Constitution states that warrantless arrest is not absolute when the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus is suspended.
The most telling of Duterte’s disregard for the rule of law and the Constitution were his latest talks before soldiers and officers in Iligan City, on May 26 and in Jolo, on May 27.
The resistance to martial law is left on the people