Philippines

Slay of local execs not ground for martial law, Palace clarifies

Slay of local execs not ground for martial law, Palace clarifies
By Azer Parrocha

MANILA (Philippines News Agency) — The consecutive killings of three local government officials last week is not a ground for the imposition of a nationwide martial law, Malacañang said Monday.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark a week after Trece Martires City, Cavite Vice Mayor Alex Lubigan, General Tinio, Nueva Ecija Mayor Ferdinand Bote, and Tanauan City, Batangas Mayor Antonio Halili were murdered in separate incidences last week.

Roque was reacting to the statement made by opposition Senator Francis Pangilinan that the killings could be orchestrated to create an atmosphere of lawlessness in the country.

“Well, Senator Pangilinan is a lawyer himself. He should know that even if there is lawlessness there cannot be a nationwide imposition of martial law. I think that’s what he was driving at,” Roque said in a Palace briefing.

“Martial law is only for rebellion or invasion, dalawang basehan lang po iyan. Kahit ilan pa yang patayan na iyan, kung walang rebelyon at walang pananakop, wala pong dahilan para magkaroon ng martial law sa buong Pilipinas (there are only two bases. No matter how plenty the killings, if there is no rebellion or invasion, there is no reason to declare martial law in the entire Philippines),” he added.

Roque also shut down claims made by human rights group Amnesty International that Duterte’s pronouncements on killings is empowering vigilante killings.

“We’ve had vigilante killings since the time of Philip Alston. I don’t think it’s proper to attribute it to President Duterte,” Roque said, referring to former UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings.

Early gun ban

Roque, meanwhile, said that the Commission on Elections (Comelec) is eyeing an earlier and longer gun ban following the killings of three local government officials.

“Normally, there’s only a gun ban during the election season, but I understand that the Comelec is now studying the possibility of imposing the ban earlier than usual dahil mukhang marami na nga pong patayang nangyayari (because it looks like there are are many killings taking place) preparatory to the elections,” Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Palace briefing.

According to the Comelec, the election period shall commence 90 days before the day of the election and shall end 30 days after, unless otherwise fixed by the Commission in special cases.

Roque, however, denied that there was a “pattern” of murders among local government officials noting that a motive behind this could be the “political season” in the country.

“So tingin ko po, the more plausible explanation behind this is, it’s really political season in the Philippines. Kaya nga po ang Comelec ay nag-iisip na palawigin pa ngayon iyong ban sa mga baril (That is why the Comelec mulls extending the gun ban),” Roque said.

“Wala nga pong system, walang pattern. So you cannot even say na lahat ng namamatay ay nasa narco-list dahil hindi po, dahil ang alam ko ay isa lang sa tatlo ang nasa narco list (There’s no system, there’s no pattern. So you cannot even say that all those killed were in the narco-list because that’s not true, because I know that only one out of the three are in the narco-list),” Roque said.

Justice for victims

When asked whether the motive for the killings was about politics or drugs, Roque said that he will await results of the investigation being conducted by the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“Wala pa po dahil nag-iimbestiga pa po. Ang nag-iimbestiga po diyan ay Ehekutibo, so hinihintay po natin ang resulta ng imbestigasyon (There is none yet because they are still investigating. The Executive is in charge of this investigation, so we are waiting for its results),” Roque said.

“Under the leadership of General Albayalde, mabilis naman silang mag-imbestiga ngayon (they are quickly investigating these cases),” he added.

Albayalde vowed to get to the bottom of the killings and urged the public to work closely with the police for any leads into the recent spate of killings that have targeted local chief executives.

“We in the PNP are committed in getting to the bottom of this and have already tasked our special investigation task groups on the ground to conduct a thorough investigation. We will keep you posted as soon as developments arise,” Albayalde said.

“We likewise appeal for any information which may help us quickly solve these cases so that justice will be served to the victims and their families,” he added.

Roque stressed that it is the common obligation of the state to accord justice and domestic remedy to all victims of killings. (With reports from Nicole De Leon, OJT/PNA)

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