Duterte said he still saw the need to keep the military unit in the city in response to the military’s pronouncement a pull-out could be possible only with an order from President Arroyo and the decision of the host local government.
“As long as I say I need law enforcers to stay here, they will stay,” he told the audience at the opening ceremonies of a training program for the city police’s Traffic Management Group Friday.
Duterte told reporters the creation as well as the deployment of Task Force Davao was ordered by the President as commander-in-chief.
He said he requested for military presence in 2003 following the twin bombings that rocked Davao that year.
Arroyo appointed Duterte as crisis manager in the aftermath of the bombings.
Kelly Delgado, secretary-general for Southern Mindanao of the human rights group Karapatan, told MindaNews that while they respect the mayor’s stand, they would still call for a pullout of the military in Davao.
Delgado alleged the military is militarizing the city and campaigning against progressive party-list organizations that are running in the elections.
The military’s East Mindanao Command chief, Rodolfo Obaniana, said last week they have received no order to terminate Task Force Davao. He cited the role played by the military in the city’s progress.
Obaniana, however, admitted they have been told to prepare a contingency plan, in case a pullout was ordered.
The Commission on Human Rights has attributed violations of civil and political rights to the military’s presence in Metro Manila and has called for their pullout recently citing complaints from residents.
Karapatan has echoed CHR’s line.
The military said it is the Left not the residents who are calling for the pullout.
President Arroyo, in a recent visit to Manila’s depressed communities, praised the presence of the troops in these areas.