Duterte may expand martial law to cover entire country

President Rodrigo Duterte in his speech upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Malacañang photo

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 24 May) – President Rodrigo R. Duterte said that he may just decide to place the entire Philippines under martial law if the threat of terrorism from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and the local terrorist groups will continue.

During his arrival message at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) on Wednesday after his shortened official visit to Russia, Duterte said: “If I think that terrorism has taken foothold also in Luzon and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country.”

But in the earlier part of his message, Duterte said a declaration of martial law may come ahead for Visayas because of its proximity to Mindanao.

“I may decide to expand the area to include the Visayas because it is just a walking distance. Actually, because of the many islands they can always escape there and begin a terroristic activity. I have ordered military, especially Navy, to embargo the islands, especially the sea that separates Mindanao from the Visayas,” he said.

Duterte said there had been suggestions raised to him by senators, urging him to declare martial law but he “remained tolerant but not oblivious of the terroristic activities” because he would only do so if there was a compelling reason.

“What is that compelling reason? You must remember earlier and even in my first command conference, I made a projection, not a prediction that one of these days the hardest things to deal with would be the arrival of ISIS in our country and it has come to pass there is really war going on and street fighting in Marawi itself,” he said.

No human rights abuses 

President Rodrigo Duterte in his speech upon arrival at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Malacañang phoan rights abuses

Despite being under martial law, the President said he will not allow abuses of human rights.

“For law abiding citizens, we are the least of your worry,” he said.

“Human rights is different. It is an institutional theory which we will preserve and observe. As I said, I will not allow abuses, the courts are open. But anyone now holding a gun, confronting government with violence, my orders are spare no one. Let us solve the problem of Mindanao once and for all,” he added.

He said the writ of habeas corpus has also been suspended, allowing for a warrantless arrest of individuals accused of instigating rebellion and terrorism and implement a curfew in some provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

He said the martial law will end if the police and military would tell him that law and order are restored and the situation will be stabilized.

For how long? He said that he would be happy to end it immediately if the security problem would be addressed or until the end of his term if it continues.

“Do not force my hand into it because I will solve all the problems that ail Mindanao. It will take me 60 days, 15 days, but you can be very sure that the response of the government will not only be equal but commensurate to the resistance of the law,” he said.

He said the writ of habeas corpus has also been suspended, allowing for a warrantless arrest of individuals accused of instigating rebellion and terrorism and implement a curfew in some provinces in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).

Duterte said he would allow the possession of firearms, for as long as they can present identification (IDs) or license to carry firearms.

“But if the things go out of hand, actually, there is a severe fighting, I will allow the Mindawons, Moro, Christian alike, if you are in a possession of gun licensed by government, in order to give you security and protect your family, you can bring it out, just show your ID, license,” he said.

Duterte said he does not intend to gamble with the global terrorist group ISIS while reiterating that he will deal with all forms of terrorism harshly in accordance with the law.

But he warned them that his order with the police is “shoot to kill” if they fight the government forces, reiterating that government’s primordial concern is the safety of the people, but the President has vowed to not tolerate human rights abuses committed by government forces.

“It is our constitutional duty that every family, every community, all Filipinos are assured to live in peace and harmony. This I can assure everyone,” he said.

Government is still running, Congress is still functioning. The courts are open for citizens to seek grievance. But in keeping with law and order, it behooves now on the military to do what is expected of them,” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)

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