Duterte: ‘No martial law, but strongest tools to impose law, order’

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star)

President Duterte is not keen on imposing martial law in the whole country but is bent on using the “strongest” political tools to promote law and order and counter security threats.

Duterte said while he does not intend to place the country under military rule, criminals should not force him to do something drastic.

“I will not declare martial law but just like what I’m doing, I will go for the strongest tools – political tools in my hand,” the President said during the birthday party of former foreign affairs secretary Alan Peter Cayetano held at the Marco Polo Hotel in Davao City last Sunday.

“If I cannot do miracles for this country, then I will just say that, you know, let us just respect each other… Huwag ninyong sobrahan (Don’t go too far). Do not force me to do something,” he added.

Duterte went on to warn the groups that he said are posing threats to the country’s security.

He said communist fronts are prodding people to seize idle lands and unoccupied houses.

He cited the urban poor group Kadamay’s occupation of Bulacan houses intended for soldiers and the supposed takeover of land in Sagay, Negros Occidental that resulted in the death of nine farmers.

Activists have blamed government forces for the death of the farmers but the military claimed the victims were used as bait by communists to discredit the government.

“I am telling the left, to the communists: do not do it ever again because I have issued an order to the police and to the armed forces. If you insist on occupying an area just like what happened in (Negros Occidental), this time I will order your arrest,” Duterte said.

Duterte said he has ordered the military and the police to shoot those who sow disorder, including those who are forcibly taking over agricultural lands.

“Once you begin to resist violently he can do his thing. If the police or the soldier – I’m addressing now the nation… if you resist violently, you pick a fight, then my order to my soldiers and policemen is just simply to shoot. And if they are in danger, shoot them dead,” Duterte said.

“From now on, there will be no confiscation of other people’s or somebody else’s property. Do not do that because you are sowing anarchy,” he added.

Duterte said the communists got angry with him after the Cabinet members they endorsed were rejected by the Commission on Appointments – Rafael Mariano of agrarian reform and Judy Taguiwalo of social welfare.

Duterte also asked Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founding chairman Jose Ma. Sison to give him reason to resume the peace negotiations.

“Jose Ma. Sison, give me a good reason to go back to the bargaining table. If there is none or if it’s just a repeat of what we have discussed earlier, then that will not suffice,” he said.

The President terminated talks with the communists last year after he accused them of pushing for a coalition government, a power-sharing setup that he said is not allowed by the Constitution.

Sison earlier alleged that Duterte would declare martial law nationwide by January next year. But the President insisted such talks have no basis.

Sison claimed on Sunday that Duterte wants to declare martial law nationwide before the May 2019 elections to ensure that the results are in his favor.

Sison, chief political consultant of the National Democratic Front (NDF), said that from inside Duterte’s ruling clique, the latest report is that Duterte himself and his innermost cabal are hell-bent on ensuring their stay in power through a presidential proclamation of martial law nationwide before the May 2019 midterm elections.

“They have decided to make the martial law proclamation as early as January 2019 in order to ensure that they control and determine the results of the elections. In accordance with their decision, they are mobilizing government agencies to hype the threat of a supposed rolling ouster plot by Reds, yellows and unreliables within the AFP and PNP and to step up the vilification campaigns, intrigues and repressive actions,” Sison said.

He said that while being panicky and violence-prone, Duterte and his allies underestimated the extent and rate of the people’s rejection of the Duterte regime.

An official of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) in Zamboanga City, however, said that the declaration of martial law in Mindanao would help in the maintenance of peaceful elections in the region.

Stephen Roy Cañete, District 1 election officer, said yesterday that martial law would secure election hotspots.

“The election is expected to be going smooth because of the martial law implementation,” Cañete said.

Martial law was extended since October last year and will end on Dec. 31 this year. However, there were calls to again extend martial law, with the military saying the threat of terrorism is continuously being addressed in Mindanao.

Armed Forces chief Gen. Carlito Galvez Jr. had earlier expressed optimism that there will be peaceful elections in the perennial hotspots in Sulu and other trouble areas.

Cañete said the Comelec would train policemen who could be deputized as election officers in areas where teachers face security threats. – With Jose Rodel Clapano, Edith Regalado, Roel Pareño


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