Duterte may de­clare mar­tial law na­tion­wide: De­fence chief

The New Paper - - NEWS -

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte may de­clare na­tion­wide mar­tial law next week if threat­ened mas­sive protests against his rule turn vi­o­lent or dis­rup­tive, his de­fence chief said yes­ter­day.

“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),” De­fence Sec­re­tary Delfin Loren­zana said, re­count­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with Mr Duterte.

Mr Loren­zana em­pha­sised that he thought the chances of Mr Duterte declar­ing mar­tial law were re­mote be­cause he doubted the sched­uled protests next Thurs­day would be as big as the or­gan­is­ers said.

He said: “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 Sept 21, the 45year an­niver­sary of late dic­ta­tor Fer­di­nand Mar­cos im­pos­ing his mil­i­tary rule.

It said the protests, to be held at a park in Manila, would voice op­po­si­tion against Mr 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 Mr Duterte’s public sup­port for Mr Mar­cos, who was over­thrown in the “Peo­ple Power” rev­o­lu­tion in 1986 and died in US ex­ile three years later.

Mr Duterte won last year’s pres­i­den­tial elec­tions on a lawand-or­der plat­form in which he promised to erad­i­cate il­le­gal drugs 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.

Mr Duterte has threat­ened to im­pose mar­tial law across the coun­try, but nei­ther he nor his aides have pre­vi­ously given a spe­cific time­frame or event that would trig­ger it.

He im­posed mar­tial law across the south­ern third of the Philip­pines in May af­ter Is­lamic State group sup­port­ers oc­cu­pied a ma­jor Is­lamic city there, lead­ing to a con­flict that has claimed more than 800 lives.

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