PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte will not declare nationwide martial law, Malacañang said Thursday amid fears of a repeat of the emergency imposed nationwide 45 years ago.
“If they are saying there is a plan to declare martial law, there is none,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in Filipino during a television interview.
“Again and again, the President has repeated this, we are not going to the direction of martial law; all that he was saying was that he was allowing the protest rallies on this date but should not resort to violence and destruction in which case the response would be firm,” Abella said.
Abella said allowing Thursday’s protest actions was a “healthy exercise [of] democracy.”
“This is also an opportune time for those in government to hear the voice of the governed as part of our efforts to uphold the highest standards of good governance,” Abella said in a separate statement.
“We ask those who would join in today’s activities—supporters and critics alike—to maintain peaceful conduct and avoid causing any undue inconvenience,” he added.
Then President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in September 1972—on the third year of his second four-year term, and while the country was under the 1935 Constitution—following burning, among others, of passenger buses in Metro Manila, violent leftist demonstrations in the capital—to check what Marcos said was a state of rebellion and enable him to institute urgent national reforms.
He lifted the emergency in January 1981, three months before the presidential elections where he won a six-year term, abbreviated by the so-called Edsa Revolution in 1986, following the snap elections in February 1986.
Meanwhile, the more than three-months fighting in Marawi City has caused concern among Asean member states and their dialogue partners, the Interior department said as Duterte visited Marawi for the fifth time since the siege.
“During the meeting, the member countries of Asean including the dialogue partners there were unanimous in acknowledging the threats in violent extremism. This is a present threat already and they are greatly concerned about the situation in Marawi City and they are hoping this situation will be resolved at the soonest possible time,” Interior Secretary Catalino Cuy said during the 11th Asean Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crimes and the 2nd Special Asean Ministerial Meeting on the Rise of Violent Extremism in Pasay Thursday.
Cuy made the pronouncement while Duterte was visiting Marawi, stressing the need to focus on efforts to rebuild Marawi.
Following the third legislative-executive development advisory council, Duterte said senators had agreed to postpone the barangay elections once more; and that congressmen would sponsor the Bangsamoro Basic Law submitted by the Bangsamoro Transition Commission.
He also vowed the war on drugs would be relentless.
Cuy said Asean member states reiterated their commitment in addressing the irregular movement of persons in the region and agreed that closer coordination and cooperation were needed in countering the terror threat in the region.
They also expressed collective action towards those who threaten the peace, security and stability of the region by adopting two landmark documents, such as the Manila Declaration to Counter the Rise of Radicalisation and Violent Extremism and Asean Comprehensive Plan of Action on Counter-Terrorism to deal with current challenges.
On Tuesday, the President said the Marawi crisis would likely end this month as government troops were already concluding their efforts in the war-torn city.
At the same time, Duterte said martial law in Mindanao would be lifted once military operations in Marawi City had been completed.
In a news conference in Marawi, Duterte said he would be lifting Proclamation No. 216, which placed the entire island of Mindanao last May under martial rule, once “clearing operations are over” and “Mindanao is already safe.”
Giving a glimpse of what could happen once military efforts to quell Islamic State-inspired terrorists are over, Duterte said he would ask state forces to quietly leave the area once battle was over as there was “no need to celebrate victory.”
The President also showed a matrix on how the Marawi crisis was funded—pinning at the Parojinog clan of Ozamiz as the ones who funded terrorism in the area.
Duterte vowed that local officials linked to drugs will be charged administratively.
As of Sept. 18, 673 terrorists were neutralized, 149 troops were killed, 47 civilians have died in the conflict and 1,730 rescued, 699 firearms recovered, and seven buildings cleared by the military.
Earlier, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that as instructed by Duterte, troops were operating “quietly” to avoid putting the lives of the other hostages in danger.
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