Na­tion­wide ML re­mote

The Freeman - - FRONT PAGE - (Philstar.com)

MANILA — The chance that President Ro­drigo Duterte will de­clare a na­tion­wide mar­tial law is un­likely, his De­fense chief said yes­ter­day, de­spite the fire­brand leader’s re­cent threat to do so if com­mu­nist rebels bring their armed strug­gle to the streets.

Duterte last week warned left­ists from stir­ring up chaos on the streets by “com­mit­ting the mis­take of stag­ing a re­bel­lion." He threat­ened to im­pose mar­tial law over the en­tire coun­try un­der such cir­cum­stance.

But in a press brief­ing in Mala­cañang, De­fense Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana, who also acts as mar­tial law ad­min­is­tra­tor in Min­danao, qual­i­fied that Duterte mak­ing such a move is “very re­mote.”

“Si pres­i­dente lang kasi, he’s very con­cerned that it might get out of hand,” Loren­zana said.

Duterte is­sued the warn­ing to com­mu­nists as prospects of the peace talks be­tween the gov­ern­ment and the rebels re­main un­cer­tain be­cause of op­pos­ing views on a cease­fire, among other is­sues.

On May 23, the president placed the en­tire Min­danao re­gion un­der mil­i­tary rule af­ter a band of home­grown ter­ror­ists loyal to ISIS over­ran Marawi City. But the dec­la­ra­tion was crit­i­cized by com­mu­nists, say­ing Duterte’s mar­tial law also tar­gets leftist fighters.

Af­ter the dec­la­ra­tion reached the 60-day limit, Con­gress over­whelm­ingly voted to ex­tend mar­tial rule in the strife-torn re­gion un­til yearend.

The topic of mar­tial law is a very sen­si­tive topic in the Philip­pines af­ter late dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos, whose pres­i­dency was tainted by al­le­ga­tions of hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, en­forced it on Septem­ber 21, 1972 over claims of civil strife and threats of a com­mu­nist takeover.

Mean­while, de­spite ex­pect­ing mas­sive protests on the mar­tial law an­niver­sary on Septem­ber 21, Loren­zana doubts the Left's ca­pa­bil­ity to stage a demon­stra­tion that would be big enough to dis­turb the whole coun­try.

“But I don’t think the pos­si­bil­ity that the Left will be able to con­duct a mas­sive demon­stra­tion across the coun­try, [thereby] dis­rupt­ing the civil gov­ern­ment or the lives of the peo­ple ay hindi na­man sig­uro mangya­yari 'yon,” he said.

LOREN­ZANA

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