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Dumaguete City, Philippines Monday, June 19, 2017
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MANILA - Malacañang yesterday welcomed the statement of the Commission on Human Rights that there has been no incident of human rights abuses reported since President Rodrigo Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law last month.

“We welcome the remarks of the CHR that there have been no reports of human rights abuses and/or violations committed by authorities after the President placed the whole island of Mindanao under martial law," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.

Abella said this development should put to rest the fears and anxiety of some quarters over martial law.

“As we said in previous occasions, public safety is foremost in the President's mind in light of the continuing rebellion in Marawi and martial law is a necessary response to address the prevailing reign of terror and its potential spillover to the rest of Mindanao," Abella added.

He reiterated that the President will respect the decision of the Supreme Court on his declaration of martial law.

“The President's media interview Saturday after visiting the troops in Butuan underscores that he adheres to the rule of law and judicial independence," Abella said.

“President Duterte made it clear that if the Supreme Court decides against the declaration of martial law, he would pull out the military in Marawi City on the ground that the High Court does not believe there is a rebellion," he added.

He noted that Duterte made it clear that if and when there is another similar incident of rebellion, when the public safety requires it, the President being the commander-in-chief "would again declare martial law and police power given to the executive by no less than our Constitution."

Meanwhile, Duterte said, “Do not worry. There is the Vice President who will take over. My state of health is immaterial.”

This was his response to persistent speculations on his health following his absence from the public since June 12 when he did not attend the Independence Day celebration in Luneta.

“My state of health is what you see, is what you get. You want an operation?” the President asked, ending rumors he was in coma.

If he was comatose, the President said he should not be at the 50th founding anniversary of Agusan del Norte and visit to the 401st Brigade Infantry Division Advance Command Post in Bancasi, Butuan City Saturday afternoon.

He said his last medical examination was last year.

Duterte stressed his state of health is immaterial because there is his successor, Vice President Leni Robredo.

“Kasi ang importante na may successor. May institutional succession, you follow it. So ano ba problema diyan, spekulasyon? Sa mga kababayan ko, ‘wag kayong mag - Do not worry too much (What is important is there is a successor. There is institutional succession, you follow it. So what is the problem? Speculation? To my countrymen, do not — do not worry too much),” he told reporters during a press interview. “I am good while I am alive but do not worry about a one day, two days absence."

He said people could have thought of what happened to Marcos who was operated, had lupus and could not appear in public for so many days.

Instead of speculating, Duterte urged the people to tell his political nemesis and staunch critics to just pray.

He said he was away somewhere that he cannot divulge. “I do not need anybody to ask me where I'm going. Pag ‘di pa gani ninyo ako makita ng limang araw, eh patay na ‘yan, so use your Robredo. Anong problema ninyo? May Bise-President (If you don't see me in five days, he's dead, so use your Robredo. What's your problem? There is a vice president),” he added.*PNA


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