By Genalyn Kabiling
The recent killings of local government officials do not warrant the declaration of martial law across the country, Malacañang said Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque explained that under the Constitution, the President could only exercise such power of declaring martial law in case of invasion or rebellion.
“So ito pong mga patayan na ito, kahit na ilan pa po iyan, kung wala pong panlulusob at walang rebelyon, hindi po iyan magiging dahilan para magkaroon ng martial law sa buong Pilipinas [Regardless of the number of the killings, if there is no invasion and no rebellion, those will not be a reason to have martial law in the entire Philippines],” Roque said in a radio interview.
“Paulit-ulit din po sinasabi ni Presidente na kumplikado po ang nationwide na martial law kaya hindi po mangyayari sa ngayon [The President has repeatedly said having a nationwide martial law will be complicated so it will not happen at present],” he said.
Roque issued the remarks after the Liberal Party reportedly cautioned about the looming nationwide declaration of martial law amid the recent murders of local officials.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, LP president, reportedly posed questions if the killings were orchestrated attempts to create an “atmosphere of lawlessness” to justify a strongman rule.
Roque, however, clarified that the state of lawlessness was different from martial law declaration.
He noted that the President has yet to lift the state of national emergency imposed in 2016. Such proclamation directed the military and the police to take measures to suppress lawless violence in Mindanao and prevent its spread elsewhere.
“Wala pong bago diyan dahil hanggang ngayon po hindi naman lifted iyong nauna nang state of national emergency na ine-imposed po ng ating Presidente [there is nothing new there because until now, the state of national emergency imposed by the President has not yet been lifted],” Roque said.
Roque, meantime, shot down speculations that the government was behind the killings, insisting that the Philippine National Police (PNP) has conducted investigations to bring the perpetrators to justice.
He said PNP Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde noted the killings were not systematic and not related to each other.
Among murder cases being investigated are Tanauan City Mayor Antonio Halili, General Tinio Mayor Ferdinand Bote, and Vice Mayor Alexander Lubigan of Trece Martires City in Cavite.
“Lahat naman po iyan kino-konsidera natin bilang mga krimen at lahat po iyan ay iniimbestigahan ng ating PNP para mas mapabilis po iyong proseso ng paglilitis at pagpaparusa doon sa mga pumapatay [All these are considered crimes and being investigated by the PNP to ensure a swift prosecution and punishment of the culprits],” he said.
“Ginagawa po ng lahat ng ating mga kapulisan para po malutas kaagad at magkaroon ng katarungan sa mga biktima [The police are doing everything to solve these cases and attain justice for the victims],” he added.