Duterte may de­clare Mar­tial Law na­tion­wide

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Pres­i­dent Duterte may de­clare na­tion­wide mar­tial law next week if threat­ened mas­sive protests by com­mu­nists and other left­ists against his rule turn vi­o­lent or dis­rupt the coun­try, his de­fense chief said on Fri­day.

"He said, if the left will try to have a mas­sive protest, start fires on the streets, they will dis­rupt the coun­try, then I might (de­clare mar­tial law)," De­fense Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana told re­porters, re­count­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with Duterte this week.

Loren­zana em­pha­sized he thought the chances of Duterte declar­ing mar­tial law were re­mote be­cause he doubted the sched­uled protests on Thurs­day next week would be as big as the or­ga­niz­ers said they were plan­ning.

"But the pres­i­dent is in­deed very con­cerned be­cause it might get out of hand. So he said I might de­clare mar­tial law."

A coali­tion of groups nam­ing them­selves the Move­ment Against Tyranny had an­nounced it was plan­ning protests on Sep 21, the 45-year an­niver­sary of late dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos im­pos­ing his mil­i­tary rule.

It said the protests, to be held at a park in the cap­i­tal of Manila, would voice op­po­si­tion against Duterte's war on drugs that has claimed thou­sands of lives, as well as the pres­i­dent's at­tacks on demo­cratic in­sti­tu­tions.

The coali­tion also voiced out­rage at Duterte's pub­lic sup­port for Mar­cos, who was over­thrown in the "Peo­ple Power" revo­lu­tion in 1986 and died in US ex­ile three years later.

The an­nounce­ment for the protest said its theme was: "Stop the Killings! Never Again to Tyranny and Dic­ta­tor­ship!"

Duterte won last year's pres­i­den­tial elec­tions on a bru­tal law-and-or­der plat­form in which he promised an un­prece­dented cam­paign to erad­i­cate il­le­gal drugs in so­ci­ety by killing up to 100,000 traf­fick­ers and ad­dicts.

Po­lice have re­ported killing more than 3,800 peo­ple in anti-drug op­er­a­tions since he took of­fice 15 months ago, while thou­sands of oth­ers have been mur­dered in un­ex­plained cir­cum­stances.

He im­posed mar­tial law in Min­danao last May after Is­lamic State group sup­port­ers oc­cu­pied a ma­jor Is­lamic city there, lead­ing to a con­flict that has claimed more than 800 lives.

(Jay Gan­zon)

AC­TIVISTS and Moro groups hold plac­ards de­nounc­ing US intervention and mar­tial law in Min­danao dur­ing a protest rally in front of the Na­tional Li­brary in Kalaw Av­enue in Manila yes­ter­day.

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