President Rodrigo Duterte could exercise special powers if it would mean protecting the people from terrorism, Malacañang said yesterday.
“There’s already a suicide bomber. He’s very concerned about that. That’s why he’s been warning enemies of the state, ‘Don’t force my hand into it. I will not allow the disintegration of this country,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said referring to the President’s reaction to the recent terrorist attacks in Sulu where one of the suicide bombers was a Filipino citizen.
“Didn’t he say, `Don’t force me to the wall. If you don’t stop, I’ll be compelled to use powers granted to me by the Constitution.’? Especially if terrorism reaches Manila, that’s what he fears most,” Panelo quoted Duterte as saying.
Asked what legal powers the Chief Executive could use to address a security crisis should it happen, Panelo enumerated several options.
“I’ve said it many times – he can declare martial law, he can declare a revolutionary government, he can use other emergency powers under the Constitution to quell whatever violence or any attempt at destroying this Republic. He can do all that,” he said.
“The military or all the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Constitution are obligated to protect the people – and the President can use the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” Panelo added.
Panelo, while stressing that the President will not declare military rule unless he is “forced into it,” clarified that the country’s safety and security are not in turmoil.
“He doesn’t want to be forced into it. He doesn’t want to do it,” he said.
At the thanksgiving dinner held for outgoing House speaker Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a couple of weeks back, Duterte said, “I see very dangerous times ahead. And I hope that we will be able to contain whatever there is really to… My hands sweat just thinking about [what would happen] if it would go awry outside of Sulu and Basilan Islands.”