Duterte threatens martial law if violence in Mindanao gets worse

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President Duterte said he would have to declare martial law if the violence in Mindanao continued

President Duterte warned today (Thursday, March 9) that he would be “forced” to declare martial law in Mindanao if violence in the region got any worse.

Speaking to an audience of local officials in Davao City, the president said: “You help me, or I will declare martial law tomorrow for Mindanao.

“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.”

The president has threatened to declare martial law in the past, only to withdraw it later. (Read our reports here and here)

On Thursday, however, the president gave details of how martial law could be implemented in the region along with its potential basis.

The president described how it would allow warrantless arrests, due to the suspension of ‘habeas corpus’. “Martial law would open the doors of every house there; the arrest of every person,” he said. “The detention of every person, everyone; anyone. The military and police will be allowed to just pick you up from the streets and detain you.”

He also admitted that the return of martial law would be a “traumatic” experience for many people who remember the Marcos era. But he reiterated that it could be necessary to contain violence in Mindanao.

However, he then gave an assurance that if he did declare martial law, it wouldn’t be to hold on to power, as was the case with Marcos.

“I will be compelled now to exercise extraordinary powers, not to perpetuate myself believe me – I am not happy continuing with this job – but since I am here, I have to. It’s not a question of emotion, it’s a question of duty,” he said.

He added that the term of the measures could be up to one year.

“If you go by the rules, regular government, nothing will happen,” he said. “Right to bail, then habeas corpus. That’s the purpose of martial law. You also spread terror against the enemies. That’s what it is actually. It’s almost terrorism by the establishment.”

While the Supreme Court might oppose a declaration of martial law, he suggested that Congress would be supportive. “I’m not saying I will disobey the Supreme Court but I have a limited period to do it, then go to the Supreme Court to explain how it has affected the lives of people in Mindanao,” he added.

Earlier today, he had visited the funeral of police officers who had been killed in a New People’s Army (NPA) attack in Davao del Sur.


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