​VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Marcos copycat or not?

President Rodrigo Duterte’s string of inconsistent statements about the late president Ferdinand Marcos and martial law has kept the public guessing whether he can or will do a Marcos or not.

On June 17, Duterte said he was ready to withdraw Proclamation 216, which placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23 after the Maute group attacked Marawi City, if ordered to by the Supreme Court.

But he warned he would be ready to reimpose martial rule “if anything goes wrong” and it could be “a copycat of Marcos.”

Marcos placed the whole country under martial law on Sept. 21, 1972.

Duterte’s statements on the day of his second State of the Nation Address on July 24 and at a forum days earlier, however, show him apparently dissociating himself from Marcos and the 1970s brand of martial law.

But then again, not quite.


Saying he was prepared to withdraw martial law but but also reimpose it if needed, Duterte categorically referred to Marcos when he visited Army troops in Butuan City in June:

So kung magsabi ang Supreme Court, mali (So if the Supreme Courts says it’s wrong), then okay. I will withdraw. Then if anything goes wrong… ‘pag mag-declare ako ng martial law uli (when I declare martial law again), the second time around, if the people suffer — bombings, ganon (like that) and I’d be forced to call martial law, hindi na ko makinig maski kanino (I will no longer listen to anybody).

Kasi kung sabihin nilang mahinto, maghinto ako. Withdraw tayo. And the police tutal ang sabi mo, terrorist talaga. Eh magbisita sila (If they say stop, I will stop. We will withdraw. If the police say there are terrorists.They should visit).

But if that rebellion burns Mindanao and the other parts of the Philippines, and I will be forced to declare martial law again, this time, I will do it on my own to preserve my nation. I will not consult anybody and there is no telling when it will end. Wala na (No more). Basta (Let me tell you)… then it could be a copycat of Marcos.

Source: Media interview with President Rodrigo Duterte following his visit to the 401st Brigade 4th Infantry Division (4ID) Advance Command Post, Brgy. Bancasi, Butuan City, June 17, 2017, watch from 7:32 to 8:50


On July 24, however, in a press conference after his second State of the Nation Address, Duterte expressed his annoyance at being compared with the late dictator.

Asked about the possibility of a repeat of the 1972 events, he quipped:

“So, why do you have to compare me with Marcos? I am not Marcos. I may not be as brilliant as Marcos. But definitely, I am more attuned to my values in life. Ang values ni Marcos is not necessarily mine just because there is martial law.”

SOURCE: Transcript of July 24 media interview with President Rodrigo Roa Duterte following his 2nd State of the Nation Address, p. 30

He also brought this up in a speech at a business forum in Davao City on July 21:

“I am not enamored with that martial law powers. Hindi ako, yung naa-atatatat diyan na… you suspect me just like Marcos beginning to — why do you have to refer me Marcos? I don’t know. History has judged him little by little throughout the years. You judge me on my own.”

SOURCE: Transcript of July 21 speech at the Davao Investment Conference 2017, p. 2

But Duterte’s second SONA shows he, much like Marcos, is prepared to disregard “civilian conduct” in the fight against terrorists;

Alam mo, yung martial law, I am not so much endeavored diyan sabihin ninyo na hindi ninyo ibigay? Okay lang. Wala akong problema diyan. Maski sabihin ninyo na tama na? Okay lang (I am not so much endeavaored [sic] with martial law. If you don’t give me the extension or if you tell me that it’s enough, it’s okay). Then I will still fight. The way I will fight the war. If it is not acceptable to the normal of civilian conduct, then I am sorry because I am not fighting a civilian war, I am stopping violence and rebellion.”

SOURCE: Transcript of July 24 State of the Nation Address, p. 6

The president has so far followed the Constitution to the letter on the extension, transmitting a written report to Congress on July 18 urging them to extend martial law in Mindanao until the end of the year.

Meeting jointly on July 22, two days before the president’s second State of the Nation Address, the Senate and the House of Representatives voted 261-18 to extend martial law in Mindanao for five more months, until Dec. 31.

The Supreme Court on July 4 upheld the validity of Proclamation 2016 on July 4 by a 11-3-1 vote.


House of Representatives Press Release, Congress overwhelmingly approves Mindanao Martial Law extension

Resolution of Both Houses No. 10

Duterte’s letter to congress asking for Mindanao martial law extension

Lagman et al vs. Medialdea (GR 231658)