PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has said he does not want martial law even as he vowed to use the “strongest tools” to ensure law and order in the country for the rest of his six-year term.
Duterte made the statement as he threatened to apprehend members of urban poor group Kadamay for occupying housing units for uniformed personnel and defended his controversial war on drugs.
“If I cannot do miracles for this country then I will just say that you know, let us just respect each other’s… Huwag ninyong sobrahan. Do not force me to do something,” the President said in a speech during the birthday celebration of former Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano in Davao City.
“I will not declare martial law but just like what I’m doing, I will go for the strongest tools, political tools in my hand,” he said.
Duterte was voted into office in 2016 on a campaign platform to eradicate illegal drugs, criminality and corruption.
Prior to the President’s pronouncement, Malacañang has also denied that Duterte is planning to declare martial law nationwide after exiled communist leader Jose Maria Sison claimed that the President will do so to make sure that the outcome of the May 2019 midterm elections will be in his favor.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Sison “has been foisting that martial law bogey for more than a year now” as part of his “psywar campaign” against the government.
“All his forecasts have fallen flat on the ground,” Panelo said.
The presidential spokesperson reiterated Duterte’s “repeated” and “consistent” pronouncement that he will step down when his term ends on June 30, 2022.
He added that the President is even willing to cut short his term in the event that a new federal constitution is ratified.
Sison alleged that nationwide martial law could be declared as early as January 2019.
The President has challenged Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison to convince him to resume the peace negotiations aimed at ending one of Asia’s longest insurgencies.