Nationwide ML remote
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.