MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte claims he’ll be the first to call for an end to martial law once Mindanao is “stable.”
“The earlier we attain the equanimity of the community, the stability, I’d be the first to clamor for the lifting of martial law,” said Duterte on Thursday, June 1, during the oath-taking of government appointees in Malacañang.
He said the rising death toll of soldiers and police under his administration is pushing him to “hurry up” the war.
“I lose about 3, 4 [security personnel]. It keeps on increasing every day for as long as that war rages on. I am one of those who are really hurrying it up,” he said.
Duterte did not specify his definition of a “stable” Mindanao but he reiterated his faith in the military and police to make the proper recommendations based on the situation on the ground.
“Ask the military or police, ‘Are we okay, because if we are, let’s lift it immediately,’” said the President.
But he warned he may seek the extension of the current 60-day martial law declaration if the military tells him more time is needed to stabilize Mindanao.
“But for as long as the military says, ‘Sir, hindi pa talaga kaya’ (Sir, we still cannot do it), and it’s beyond 60 days, Congress must understand that I may need more time,” said the President.
He blasted critics who say he did not consult the military before deciding to declare martial law on May 23. Senators earlier said Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told them that he believed the Marawi crisis could be resolved without martial law.
“You can hardly talk to the fools… You do not declare martial law without asking the soldiers and the policemen,” said Duterte on Thursday.
The President previously said he would lift martial law only if the military and police recommend that he do so. He said he would not listen to others.
Critics took this as a warning that the President intends to ignore the Supreme Court and Congress. The 1987 Constitution requires Congress’ approval for any extension of martial law.
On Wednesday, May 31, Duterte modified his earlier statement that he might expand martial law coverage to include the Visayas and Luzon. He said he is considering suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas, not put it under martial law.
Duterte made no specific mention of the military air strike which accidentally killed 11 soldiers on Wednesday, but expressed regret for the death of security personnel in general due to the clashes.
“I have many dead, I am very sad. I have many dead soldiers, I have many dead police,” he said. /Rappler.com