MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews / 24 April) – President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to declare martial law if the New People’s Army continued attacking government forces.
Duterte, in a warning aired on national television on Friday, was reacting to reports that two soldiers were killed in an encounter with NPA rebels in Aurora province last Tuesday. He said the soldiers were escorting government workers giving relief aid to people affected by the enhanced community quarantine.
“Kinukuha ninyo ang tulong sa tao pati supply pagkain nila. Kaya I am now warning everybody and putting notice on this sa Armed forces and sa pulis. I might declare martial law. And there will be no turning back,” he added.
(You’re stealing aid for the people including their food. That’s why I’m now warning everybody and putting notice to the Armed Forces and police. I might declare martial law. And there will be no turning back.)
“Ang utos ko sa kanila, ‘Patayin kayo? O di patayin ninyo sila.’ Lahat na. Tapusin na natin ito sa panahon ko. I have two more years. I will try to finish all of you,” he said.
(My order to them, They will kill you? Then kill them. All of them. Let’s finish this in my term. I have two more years. I will try to finish all of you.)
Duterte also threatened to go after alleged legal fronts of the NPA if he decides to declare martial law. “Kayong mga legal fronts, magtago na kayo.” (You in the legal fronts, you better hide.)
The President made the statements during the meeting of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease on Thursday.
In a statement Friday, the Makabayan bloc in Congress hit Duterte for using the pandemic as “an excuse to declare martial law.”
“We have now heard straight from the horse’s mouth that President Duterte intends to exploit the COVID pandemic as a pretext to implement his scheme of imposing nationwide martial and ruling as a dictator. Furthermore, he is using unverified reports of alleged NPA attacks to divert attention from his administration’s poor handling of the COVID pandemic disease caused by the virus,” the statement said.
“Again we are calling on the Duterte administration to stop using militaristic methods to solve the COVID pandemic because it will not work. Fast tracking mass testing, pro-active contact tracing and ensuring the protection of our frontliners as well as giving timely relief and cash aid to the families affected by the lockdown are the keys to solve this COVID crisis,” it added. (H. Marcos C. Mordeno/MindaNews)