By Catherine S Valente Manila Times
Malacanang has clarified on President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement that martial law would be declared in Mindanao if local officials didn’t help to keep the peace.
In a statement, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said Duterte’s remarks “underscore the depth and breadth of lawlessness and violence in Mindanao.”
“The context of the statement was the challenge to the local chief executives in Mindanao to be more fully engaged in regional challenges, otherwise he would be constrained to enforce more drastic measures,” Abella said.
“By raising the possibility of martial law in the island (President Duterte) is hopeful that local leaders would realise the magnitude of the law and order problem and consequently help his administration to fight terrorism, illegal drugs and other forms of violence,” he added.
Duterte on Thursday said he might be forced to declare military rule in Mindanao if local officials did nothing to help him ensure peace in Mindanao.
Speaking before local government leaders in Mindanao, Duterte appealed for just and long-lasting peace in the region.
“I will be compelled now (to have) extraordinary powers, not to perpetuate myself. Believe me, I am not happy continuing with this job. But since I have to – it’s not a question of emotions; it’s a question of duty,” the president said in a speech.
“I now face the enormity of the problem, face this violence almost unstoppable. I have no choices but let’s talk. Either you help me or I will declare martial law tomorrow for Mindanao,” he added.
Duterte said he possessed the mandate to “serve and protect the Filipino people and the Philippine territory” from violence.
The president, however, clarified that he was not ready to declare martial law, as it would not guarantee the end to the peace and order problem in the country.
Duterte had floated the idea of declaring martial law in his previous speeches but said one-man rule won’t be beneficial to the country.
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