PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has reiterated that he has no plans of declaring a nationwide martial law, as the period for the military rule in Mindanao is set to end next month.
“Iyang martial law-martial law. Hindi ako mag-declare ng martial law. Bakit ako mag-declare ng martial law? Puwede man kitang hulihin. Puwede nga kitang patayin eh,” Duterte said in a speech at the 35th founding anniversary of the Philippine Army Reserve Command at the Camp General Mariano Riego de Dios in Tanza, Cavite.
Duterte also said he does not intend to extend his stay in power.
“Kaya inuutusan ko kayo ngayon. ‘Pag ako ang nag-overshoot ng isang oras sa termino ko, hulihin ninyo ako at i-firing squad ninyo ako,” Duterte told soldiers and army reservists.
“Kaya ang loyalty ninyo dapat huwag sa akin. You remain loyal to the flag. That is what democracy is all about,” he added.
In another development, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, by order of President Duterte, signed Memorandum Order No. 32 calling for the deployment of additional police and military forces in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental, and the Bicol Region.
Government troops are also ordered to “prevent such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.”
The memorandum cited a spate of violence in the four areas “which appear to have been committed by lawless groups.”
Thus, it said there is a need to reinforce the directive of the President to suppress lawless violence “to prevent further loss of innocent lives and destruction of property and bring the whole country back to a state of complete normalcy as quick as possible.”
The government in 2016 declared a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao and called on the military and police to undertake all necessary measures to suppress any and all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao and prevent its spread elsewhere in the country.
Under the memorandum, the military, police, and the Department of Justice, in close coordination with other law enforcement agencies, shall intensify their local and transnational intelligence operations against individuals or groups suspected of, or responsible for, committing or conspiring to commit lawless violence in the country.
The memorandum also underscored that no civil or political rights are suspended during the existence of a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.
“In particular, the AFP and PNP are enjoined to observe existing rules and jurisprudence in instances that may justify the implementation of warrantless arrests, searches and seizures, as well as ensure compliance with guidelines for police/military checkpoints and stop-and-frisk situation,” the memorandum reads.
“Any AFP or PNP personnel found violating any of the foregoing constitutional rights shall be held administratively, civilly or criminally liable therefore.”