Duterte needs time to ponder on martial law in 6 Sulu municipalities

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 16 May) – Whether or not martial law is necessary to weed Abu Sayyaf terrorists out of Sulu province, President Rodrigo R. Duterte said he needs time to decide because he does not want to “tinker with the extraordinary powers of the government.”

President Rodrigo Duterte at the press conference upon his arrival in Davao City from Beijing on 16 May 2017. PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO

In a press conference upon his arrival from Beijing, China early Tuesday at the F. Bangoy International Airport, Duterte reacted to the call made by Save Sulu Movement spokesperson Prof. Octavio A. Dinampo last May 10 that he must place 6 of the 19 municipalities of Sulu under martial law to rein in the local politicians who are believed to be coddling terrorists.

“I need time to ponder on it deeply. It not is only a political decision, it’s an emotional decision. You do not tinker with the extraordinary powers of the state,” he said.

The group wants martial law to cover Patikul, Indanan, Parang, Maimbung, Talipao, and Kalingalan Caluang as the alleged “craters of the terrorism.”

But Duterte admitted that a declaration of martial law is a very serious one.

“I will solve everything that ails Mindanao pati boundary sa lupa mo. I will not just tinker with it. It’s a very serious one. Kung ako magmamartial law, there is no way of telling how long it will take to restore order, or we might not be able to succeed. Just the same, I’m warning everybody, if I declare martial law there is no telling how long it would be and for what purpose,” he said.

Dinampo’s group also called on the Senate to conduct an inquiry to look into possible links between local politicians and Abu Sayyaf terrorists, as he accused that some government officials are receiving a “lion’s share” of the ransom money.

Prof. Octavio Dinampo of Sulu, spokesperson of Save Sulu Movement, wants President Rodrigo Duterte to declare martial law in six of 19 towns in Sulu and for Congress to investigate the alleged links between local politicians and the Abu Sayyaf. Dinampo was among the guest os Habi and Kabe at the Abreeza Mall on Wednesday, 10 May 2017. Photo courtesy of Prix Banzon

Dinampo said their group wants the politicians criminally liable for conniving with the terrorists.

“The record of the Army, it tallies with our findings that really we have to control the politicians because if we have 10 problems in Sulu, 8 of them are created by politicians. Only one or two are created by the ASG,” he said.

He believes the crackdown on erring politicians will put a dent on the activities of the terrorists.

“There will be a fear of loss without the politicians. Just imagine, right now you move one battalion, for example, before they can take five steps, a text would reach the ASG, you get out from there, transfer to another hiding place. What can you do?” he said. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)