Will Duterte declare Martial Law in Mindanao?

Mar. 10, 2017

‘HELP ME, OR I WILL DECLARE MARTIAL LAW.’ Addressing some 300 chief local executives from Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte asked for help to address the problems of terrorism and the proliferation of illegal drugs in Mindanao, or else he will have to declare Martial Law. Duterte met the local chief executives on Thursday, Feb. 9, at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City. (Paulo C. Rizal/davaotoday.com)

DAVAO CITY, Philippines —- It’s either the governors and mayors of Mindanao help President Rodrigo Duterte on his war against illegal drugs and terrorism, or he we will declare Martial Law in the island today.

This was the pronouncement of the president as he spoke to some 240 local chief executives from Mindanao at the SMX Convention Center here, on Thursday, March. 9.

“I am pleading with you because I do not want the trouble in Mindanao to spin out of control because then, as President, I will be forced, I will be compelled to exercise extraordinary powers. You’ve had experience with martial law and it could be a brutal war,” Duterte said.

Duterte said his Martial Law could take between 20 days to one year, admitting that it would be “traumatic.”

Duterte made the pronouncements as he feared that illegal drugs trade and terrorism would “spin out of control.”

“‘Wag ninyong protektahan ang mga durugista, walang mangyari sa inyo. Mag-away lang tayo, I will deprive you of the police. Kukunin ko yung supervision at authority ninyo over the police and I will just ask the military to go in and impose order (Don’t protect the drug lords, you will go nowhere. It will just get us fighting. I will deprive you of the police. I will remove your supervision and authority over the police and I will just ask the military to go in and impose order),” Duterte said.

The president, however, made it clear that he would rather not declare Martial Law, saying that it would not only result to warrant-less arrests, it would also put military over civilian authority.

“But Martial Law would open the doors of every house there, the arrest of every person, the detention of everyone, anyone. The military and the police would be allowed to just pick you up from the streets and detain you. And then you can go to court for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus,” Duterte said.

“Ang problema with Martial Law is that the military and the police will be higher than you already in terms of authority. Ayokong gawain ‘yan kaya tulungan ninyo ako” (The problem with Martial Law is that the military and the police will be higher than you in terms of authority. I don’t want to do that so help me), Duterte added.

Duterte also claimed that if he would declare Martial law, it would not be to perpetuate in power.

“I will have to exercise extraordinary powers, not to perpetuate myself in power, believe me. I am not happy continuing with this job, but since I am here. It’s not a question of emotions, it’s a question of duty,” Duterte said.

Duterte advised the government officials to help him by using their police supervisory powers “to a hilt” in helping him in his campaign.

Duterte’s warning came as the country is still under a state of lawlessness, which the President declared following the bombing in Davao City’s Roxas night market on September 2, 2016.

The declaration of the state of lawlessness is rooted in Article VII Section 18 of the Constitution which reads: “Section 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.”

However, Suara Bangasamoro national chairperson Amirah Lidasan said the Mindanawon president knew better that declaring Martial Law is not the answer.

“It will only worsen the human rights situation and will not resolve the roots of conflict,” Lidasan told Davao Today.

She also expressed fear that a Martial Law declaration “will only embolden the Armed Forces of the Philippines and legitimize their attacks on civilians out of desperation for failing to quell the insurgency.”

“President Duterte should not fall prey to the militarist route in resolving conflict in Mindanao,” she said.(davaotoday.com)

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