Well, this isn’t surprising.
Spokesman Salvador Panelo today defended President Rodrigo Duterte from criticism by saying that the latter’s order to have leftist groups killed was protected by the Constitution.
In his statement this afternoon, Panelo said the president was criticizing leftist groups for allegedly “taking advantage of the global crisis” caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The President is tasked by the Constitution to enforce it and the laws of the land. Transgressors will suffer the consequences of their violations as imposed by law,” Panelo said. “Threatening violators and enemies of the state with deathly violence is not a crime. The law allows the use of lethal violence when the person’s life using it hangs on balance. That is a universal law anchored on the principle of self-preservation.”
Panelo said that according to Section 18, Article 12 of the Constitution, “the President is mandated to call the armed forced to prevent or suppress lawless violence. In issuing the warning to the Left as well as to those who instigate riots and violence, he is merely reminding them that the government is ready to forcibly quell any unrest and disturbance that threaten public safety, specially at this time of national emergency.”
The spokesman added that Duterte was merely “putting an end to a contemplated and threatened violence by those who disturb the status quo that will certainly result in the destruction of lives and properties. By so doing, the President is protecting the lives and human rights of those people placed in imminent danger thereof.”
President Duterte has repeatedly ordered police & others to kill alleged drug offenders. Now he’s ordering police & military to kill those violating #COVID19 quarantine. The Philippine government must end incitement to violence & protect the right to life & human rights. pic.twitter.com/Jj0xuRPrC6
— Amnesty International (@amnesty) April 2, 2020
Panelo also called out Amnesty International for criticizing Duterte in a tweet, where the organization said that the Philippines “must end incitement to violence & protect the right to life & human rights.” He said Amnesty, like other critics of the president, were nothing but “incorrigible objectors.”
Duterte threatened members of leftist groups earlier this week after at least 20 residents from Quezon City were arrested for organizing a protest to demand food from the local government. Authorities alleged that the activist group Kadamay instigated the residents to hold the rally and that contrary to initial claims, the residents did, in fact, receive food packs from the government. Kadamay, meanwhile, has urged the Quezon City government to release the protesters.
Many Filipinos have been left unemployed and hungry due to the Luzon-wide lockdown, which forcibly quarantined millions of residents inside their homes.
Subscribe to The Coconuts Podcast for top trending news and pop culture from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong every Friday!