President Rodrigo Duterte is allowed to make violent threats against enemies of the state especially if groups causing trouble are endangering the lives of law enforcers.

“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,” Presidential spokesman and chief legal counsel Salvador Panelo said in a statement.

Panelo said that under the Constitution the President is tasked “to enforce it and the laws of the land. Transgressors will suffer the consequences of their violations as imposed by law.”

He added that the President is “merely reminding” everyone that the government is ready to use force to stop any act that threatens public safety.

“By so doing, the President is protecting the lives and human rights of those people placed in imminent danger thereof,” Panelo added.

Panelo came to his boss’ defense after netizens severely rebuked the president’s latest remarks evoking violence.

Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Thursday urged the public to reject Duterte’s threats.


READ: De Lima hits Duterte’s ‘shoot them dead’ order: ‘It is obvious who is intimidated’


“Sa loob ng tatlong taon, wala na tayong ibang narinig mula sa pangulong ito kung hindi gulo, barilan, patayan. Puro pananakot! Puro panggigipit! And now that we are confronted with a life-threatening crisis — an existential threat indeed — all he can offer is more VIOLENCE,” the detained lawmaker said in a statement.

“Who gave him the right to threaten and instill fear in the very people that he is owing his power from?” she said.

During a surprise television address Wednesday night hours after a violent dispersal of a protest rally by a group of Quezon City residents along EDSA for violating the Luzon quarantine, Duterte accused leftist groups of stirring anti-government sentiment while the country is grappling against coronavirus epidemic. He said he would not hesitate to order law enforcers to “shoot them dead” if they endanger the lives of authorities.

My orders are sa pulis pati military, pati mga barangay na pagka ginulo at nagkaroon ng okasyon na lumaban at ang buhay ninyo ay nalagay sa alanganin, shoot them dead.

The protesters said they were out of work and had not received any food aid from the local or national government.

Police said the leftist group Kadamay were the ones who riled up the protesters using false information.

However, Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa on Thursday said they will not follow Duterte’s order to shoot troublemakers and quarantine violators He said the president just ‘overemphasized’ the implementation of the law.


READ: PNP will not obey Duterte’s ‘shoot’ order vs quarantine violators


“Of course not, probably the President just overemphasized on implementing the law in this time of crisis. Of course not,” he said.

The PNP chief said the police force is mandated to enforce the law and that they know the sense of urgency in the president’s words.

“We see the strong message and I think all the PNP personnel understood it,” he said. (Rommel F. Lopez)