No martial law, I have enough powers–Duterte
President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said he had no plans to declare martial law nationwide amid fears stoked by Memorandum Order (MO) No. 32 authorizing the deployment of more troops to Bicol, Samar and Negros Island, to suppress “lawless violence.”
“No, I’m not going to declare martial law. There [are] enough powers of the presidency that I can use,” the President said in Bohol, although he added that if there was “widespread violence, then maybe.”
At a news conference with reporters, the President also said he would deploy a division of soldiers to Jolo, where an attack by the Abu Sayyaf terror group left five soldiers dead and 23 others wounded on Nov. 17.
Death of soldiers
“Not only a company, not only a battalion, not a regiment, but I’m going to place an entire division [on] the islands there toward Sabah,” the President said in Cauayan, Isabela, on Monday night to mourn the death of the soldiers in Sulu.
Saying it was his duty to protect the security of the country,” the President said the deployment of more troops to Samar was meant to stop the New People’s Army from imposing taxes and acting like “it’s their government [that] is in control.”
The President said he was also studying the possibility of declaring Negros a land reform area, adding that communist rebels were “exploiting” the land problem there by creating a federation of farmers and looking for vacant lands that they could occupy.
Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, meanwhile, slammed government critics for “instilling fear or panic” over MO 32.
‘They will be decimated’
“The communist terrorist groups and their front organizations are crying foul over this because they know for certain that they will be decimated by government forces once these troops are deployed,” he said.
Año also clarified that MO 32 was not a prelude to a declaration of martial law nationwide.
“There are safety nets in place to make certain that no abuses will take place,” Año said.
The Philippine National Police has started to deploy and realign elite police and mobile patrol units in the affected regions.
“We already deployed a [Special Action Force] company in the Bicol region, and one company in Samar. In Negros, [where there is a semipermanent SAF deployment], we will just realign them wherever it is most critical,” said PNP Director General Oscar Albayalde on Tuesday.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.