Duterte: ‘Martial Law didn’t improve our lives’

MANILA, Philippines –  President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday, December 1, brushed aside suggestions that he would declare Martial Law, saying it failed to improve the lives of Filipinos in the first place.

Duterte made the statement a day after thousands of protesters gathered at the People Power Monument on EDSA to oppose the stealth hero’s burial for dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who imposed Martial Law, a period marked by atrocities.

Pero kung manggaling sa akin, mag-Martial Law, kalokohan 'yan. Nag-Martial Law naman tayo noon. Ano nangyari, gumaling ba ang buhay natin hanggang ngayon? Wala,”  he said in his speech at the 3rd Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Local Government Summit.

(If it would come from me, a Martial Law declaration, that’s just foolish. We had Martial Law before, what happened? Nothing. Did our lives improve from then until now? Nothing.)

He added: “Kaya itong mga taga-Manila, akala nila siguro, hinihintay nila ngayon na magagalit ako. Putang ina, Martial Law dito, Martial Law doon; barilan dito, barilan doon. Pag-alis ko, dumami ang patay lalo. So you build a nation over the dead bones of the Moro and the Christians, na walang kasalanan.”

(People in Manila may be thinking, waiting for me to get angry. Son of a bitch, Martial Law here, Martial Law there; gunfight here, gunfight there. Then when I leave, there would be even more deaths. So you build a nation over the dead bones of the Moro and the Christians, who are innocent.)

Addressing those who advocate the imposition of Martial Law to eliminate terrorists, such as the Maute group responsible for a bomb attack in Davao City, Duterte said killing the criminals would not solve the problem, as this would only sow the seeds of hatred in their children. 

The Maute group occupied parts of Butig town in Lanao del Sur for several days until government troops pushed its main force to withdraw. (READ: Maute's force leaves Lanao; 49 dead)

Ngayon, sabi nila, Martial Law. Martial Law. Martial Law ako dito. Paano? Patayin ko lahat 'yang Maute pati mga religious extremists? Then? Then? Bakit 'yun bang nasa utak niya maipasa niya sa anak niya? What this guy would remember is ang tatay niya pinatay. Martial Law for what? Killing people?” he said.

(Now, they say, Martial Law. Martial Law. Impose Martial Law here. How's that? Kill all the Maute as well as the religious extremists? Then? Then? Will he pass on his idelogy to his children? What this guy would remember is his father was killed. Martial Law for what? Killing people?)

'Blanket authority' to mayors?

He said instead of imposing Martial Law, he would rather give “blanket authority” to local officials wracked by grave peace and order problems, assisted by the military.

“I would rather empower every mayor.... Kung sabihin mo sa (if you tell the) brigade, tell your story why your community is not safe anymore, then I will give you the blanket authority. Go ahead, what is your order?” he said.

Duterte said local officials cannot use this "authority" to order the military to do illegal activities. He said he would give a standing order to soldiers to "shoot officials" who do so. 

The President had said on several occasions that he had been tempted to declare Martial Law to stamp out the drug menace, but said he would not. He called it a "contingency" against widespread violence.  

Earlier on Wednesday, Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa announced that the PNP was on "terror alert level 3" days after an alleged attempt to plant an improvised explosive device near the United States embassy in Manila.

Police suspect the Maute group, which is responsible for the  Davao City blast, to be behind the US embassy incident.

Under the Terror Threat Advisory System of the Anti-Terrorism Council, an area is placed under Threat Level 3 "when a terrorist attack is a strong possibility within a short period of time.” – Rappler.com