Last month, we reported on the seizure of 1300 pounds of methamphetamine in suburban Manila. Over the weekend, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he would have shot the six men arrested in the raid, and declared himself ready to declare martial law if the war on drugs gets out of control. More from Neal Conan in today’s Pacific News Minute.
Martial law is a tender issue in the Philippines, former dictator Fernando Marcos killed, jailed and tortured thousands under martial law; he was overthrown in 1986. The constitution, rewritten in 1987, states that the President can only declare martial law “in case of invasion or rebellion” and the decision is subject to review by both Congress and the Supreme Court.
“I don’t care about the Supreme Court, “ President Duterte said on Saturday night, “I will declare Martial law if I wanted to. Nobody can stop me.”
At least six thousand alleged drug suspects have been killed in shoot outs with Police or murdered by death squads since Duterte's election last summer, with a million more arrested or surrendered.
Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II told the website Inquirer News that the president was just frustrated by the scale of the drug seizure from the Chinese Red Dragon Syndicate last month. “The public and especially the media should not be surprised and rather be already accustomed to this mindset of the President,” he said.
But the President’s critics expressed alarm. Franklin Drilon, President Pro Tem of the Philippine Senate said, “The truth is, mere talk of martial law is enough to send chills to the spine of any Filipino.“