PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte’s willingness to pull troops out from Marawi City if the Supreme Court orders him to indicates his respect for the rule of law, the Malacañang Palace said on Sunday.
Duterte told the media in Butuan City last Saturday that he would withdraw military forces from Marawi if the Supreme Court finds the law was imposed with no factual basis.
“President Duterte made it clear that if the Supreme Court decides against the declaration of martial law, he would pull out the military in Marawi City on the ground that the High Court does not believe there is a rebellion,” the Philippine Star quoted Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella as saying.
However, PhilStar says Abella did not speak of Duterte’s warning that if violence erupts anew in Mindanao forcing him to redeclare martial law, he will do so without listening to anyone.
Duterte added that the new martial law would be the same as that declared by ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos, whose declaration from 1972 to 1981, allowed widespread human rights violations.
Duterte imposed 60 days of martial law over Mindanao in May as a response to the Islamist militant attacks and warned the law could be dragged out for up to a year if necessary.
Opposition lawmakers, who fear a return of abuses, have asked the Supreme Court to reject the law, branding it as unconstitutional. They believe it should be struck down for “utter lack of sufficient factual basis”.
The Palace is trying to assuage the public but says there is no clear timeline as yet for lifting the martial law in Mindanao.
“We also take cognizance that enemy resistance continues to dwindle and enemy-held areas continue to grow smaller as the troops advance,” Rappler quoted Abella as commenting on the timeline on Saturday.
Monday marks 27th day of clashes since the Philippine Army launched a strike to capture Isnilon Hapilon, a wanted leader of the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.