Presidential officials clarify Duterte's warning of martial law

2017-01-16 09:59:48 GMT2017-01-16 17:59:48(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

MANILA, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- Philippine presidential officials have reassured the public that President Rodrigo Duterte has no plan of declaring martial law in the country despite his earlier warning.

Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said there was a big "if" in the statement of the president which means that it is not yet final.

Panelo, in an interview by radio DWFM on Monday, said certain factors must be present before Duterte would consider declaring martial law.

Duterte, while addressing the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry last Saturday, said he was inclined to declare martial law if the situation becomes virulent.

Panelo reassured the public that the constitution included such safety clauses like martial law may only be imposed if there is a need to preserve the country from chaos.

Secretary of the Presidential Communications Office Martin Andanar on Sunday night chided the media for "misreporting" the remarks of the president and putting a spin on his pronouncements that he will declare martial law simply "if he wants to" or "no one can stop the president from declaring martial law."

Andanar said such "irresponsible" headlines would trigger panic and confusion.

He said the president had categorically said "No" to martial law and even explained that martial law, after it was imposed by Ferdinand Marcos (former president), did not improve the lives of the Filipinos.

"The president's remarks before the Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry were clear. He mentioned declaring martial law only under the premise that the country has deteriorated into an utter state of rebellion and lawlessness," Andanar said.

"As president, he recognizes the challenges and limitations set by our constitution in declaring martial law but he would nonetheless act accordingly if it warrants the preservation of the nation," he added.