MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo called on President Rodrigo Duterte to take back his threat to ignore the Supreme Court and Congress on his declaration of martial law over Mindanao, saying “we should all be bothered” by the statement.
Robredo challenged Duterte to set an example for all public servants that, “anumang krisis ang ating kaharap, kailangan nating manatiling tapat sa ating Saligang Batas at sa demokrasya (whatever crisis we face, we need to remain faithful to our Constitution and democracy).”
Speaking to troops in Sulu Saturday, Duterte said: “Hanggang hindi sinabi ng pulis pati Armed Forces na safe na ang Philippines, this martial law will continue. Hindi ako makinig sa iba. Mga Supreme Court, ‘yung mga congressman, wala man sila dito (Until the police and Armed Forces declare the Philippines safe, this martial law will continue. I won’t listen to others. The Supreme Court, congressmen, they aren’t here).”
Under the 1987 Constitution, Congress can either revoke martial law or extend it beyond 60 days while the Supreme Court can review the basis for declaring it.
‘Every public servant swore an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution,” Robredo stressed. “The legitimacy of the whole government is based on its faithful obedience to the Constitution.”
“The power of Congress and the Supreme Court to review, and if necessary, set aside the proclamation of martial rule and the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus cannot be set aside,” she said.
She noted that the 1987 Constitution was designed “to prevent the abuse of power by one person” because of “our bitter experience under the Marcos dictatorship.”
She added that many Filipinos fear that “our society will sink in the quicksand of violence and abuse that mark these times.”
Robredo hoped Duterte “understands that the fears of our people can only worsen with pronouncements like his.”
“It is very important that our people hear that, despite everything that is happening, all their leaders remain faithful to the Constitution,” she said.