VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Despite previous threat to declare martial law, Duterte now against it

TO the growing list of President Rodrigo Duterte’s flip-flops, one can now add this: he says declaring martial law would be “kalokohan” (foolish), contrary to a previous threat he himself has made.


In a speech Dec. 1, during a local government summit in Davao City, Duterte talked about the threat of terrorism in Mindanao and said:

“Sinasabi nila iyang martial law. Mag-martial law ako dito. Ano? Patayin ko lahat ng Maute pati iyan mga religious extremist? Then?”(Will I declare martial law. Do they want me to kill all members of the Maute group even the religious extremists? Then?)

The president added:

“Martial law for what? Killing people? I would rather empower every mayor.”

More, he said:

“Pero kung manggaling pa sa akin, mag-martial law, kalokohan iyan. Nag-martial law man tayo noon. Ano nangyari? Gumaling ba ang buhay natin hanggang ngayon? Wala.(As for me declaring martial law, that’s nonsense. We experienced martial law and what happened? Did our lives improve? No.)

(Source: RTVM, 3rd ARMM Local Government Summit speech, Dec. 1, 2016. Watch from 20:00-21:37)

Yet, back in August, Duterte had lashed out against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, and threatened to declare martial law if the Supreme Court got in the way of his brutal drug war.

After Duterte had named several judges as being allegedly involved in the drug trade, Sereno wrote a letter, seeking clarifications and reminding the president that such premature announcements could have grave consequences for the co-equal judicial branch.

In a speech August 9, before soldiers in Cagayan de Oro City, Duterte told Sereno:

“Please, huwag mo akong orderan. Hindi, hindi ako, hindi ako gago. If this continues, pigilan mo ako, ‘di sige. Pag nagwala na, or would you rather that I will declare martial law? Pinapatay ang Pilipino. I grieve for the so many women raped, men killed, infants raped, tapos ipitin mo ako.”(Don’t give me orders. I’m not stupid….Would you rather I declare martial law? Filipinos are being killed. I grieve for the so many women raped, men killed, infants raped, and you’re trying limit my powers.)

(Source: RTVM, Talk To Troops speech. Aug. 9, 2016. Watch from 35:55-36:37)

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar later clarified the remarks as being only rhetorical in nature.

Source: Presidential Communications Operations Office

Previous Duterte flipflops include, among others: both condemning and sympathizing with the Abu Sayyaf; denouncing and wooing the European Union; and vowing to stop cursing without following through.