In a televised message on April 1, 2020, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte minced no words in warning the trouble makers and the seditious inciters of mortal consequences if they continue to create unrest, panic, confusion, fear and foment hate against the government, while the nation struggles to rid itself of the deadly coronavirus.
He slammed the Left for taking advantage of the global crisis as well as those discriminating against — and harassing — the health workers. He told them they will be detained until the duration of the national emergency. He warned them that if they wanted trouble and bloodshed, he will accommodate them and give them hell.
The President ordered the PNP to shoot them dead if in the course of the instigated riot, the lives of the policemen are placed on the line.
While those who want peace and order to reign even as the country is reeling over the adverse effects of the global crisis hail the incisive and blunt words of the President, there are the usual detractors, whiners and nitpickers who criticised the President and raised the spectre of martial rule being exercised by the President.
In its tweet, the Amnesty International states that “The Philippine Government must end incitement to violence and protect the right to human life and human rights.”
Let us educate and disabuse the biased minds of these incorrigible objectors.
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.
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.
Under Section 18, Article 7 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 President by exercising what the Constitution requires him to do is precisely 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.
The enemies of the state are once more forewarned: Any attempt at destabilising the government and any and all acts calculated to impede the swift and smooth implementation of the Bayanihan To Heal As One Act to stop the spread of COVID-19 to the detriment of the general welfare will be crushed.
Salvador S. Panelo
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel
& Presidential Spokesperson