Duterte not using pandemic as excuse to declare martial law in the Philippines: Spokesman

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: Reuters. Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

MANILA, Apr 28, 2020, The Manila Times. President Rodrigo Duterte is not using the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic as an excuse to impose martial law, Malacañang said on Monday. Malacañang spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the Palace was addressing the claims of Duterte’s critics that the pandemic was just a cover for his real intent — placing the entire country under martial rule, The Manila Times reported.

“Nako, nakakatawa po iyan kasi hindi lang naman sa Pilipinas ang merong pandemic. E, ang katotohanan po, ang sinabi naman ng Presidente, ang martial law ay gagamitin kapag nagpatuloy po ang NPA (New People’s Army) doon sa kanilang pag-atake sa sundalo, lalong lalo na iyan, ‘yung mga sundalo na nagbabantay lang naman doon sa mga nagbibigay ayuda sa ating taumbayan (That’s funny because it isn’t only the Philippines experiencing the pandemic. The truth is President Duterte said martial law would be used only if the NPA continue attacking our soldiers, especially those manning Covid checkpoints),” Roque said.

In a public address last Friday, the President warned he would declare martial law if the NPA continued its attacks against government troops.

Four days earlier, two soldiers were killed in what the military described as an NPA assault on Aurora province.

And on Friday itself, a policeman and a local government employee were wounded in a raid by communist rebels in Masbate.

The NPA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

The President had declared a unilateral ceasefire with the rebels to give the government a chance to focus on efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The communists later called their own ceasefire in what they said was a direct response to United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres’s call for a global ceasefire amid the fight against the coronavirus pandemic.

The government’s ceasefire ended on April 15.

The CPP’s central committee directed the NPA and other armed units to extend the ceasefire until April 30.

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