July 19, 2019
President Rodrigo Duterte might be forced to declare martial law if extremists carry out terror attacks in Metro Manila, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President was “very concerned” over potential security threats in the region arising from the suicide bombings in Mindanao.
“He can declare martial law, he can declare a revolutionary government, he can use other emergency powers under the Constitution to quell whatever violence or any attempt at destroying this Republic,” Panelo said when asked what the President could do to prevent a possible spillover of terror attacks in other parts of the country.
“Pwede niyang gawin lahat ‘yun (He can do all of these). The military or all the Armed Forces of the Philippines, under the Constitution, are obligated to protect the people. The President can use the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he added.
The police and military had confirmed that one of the suicide bombers in Jolo, Sulu was a Filipino identified as Norman Lasuca.
Lasuca and another suspected Abu Sayyaf member blew themselves up at the Philippine Army’s 1st Brigade Combat Team camp in Indanan.
“‘Yun nga ang kinakatakot niya kasi may [Filipino] suicide bomber na (That’s what he’s afraid of because there’s already a Filipino suicide bomber). He’s very concerned about that. Kaya ‘di ba nag-warning siya sa enemies of the state, “Don’t force my hand. I will not allow the disintegration of this country,” he added.
“Kaya nga ‘di ba (That’s why [the President said]): ‘Don’t force me to the wall. ‘Pag hindi kayo tumigil (If you will not stop), I’ll be compelled to use powers granted to me by the Constitution, lalung-lalo pa ‘yung terorismo makarating dito sa Maynila (especially if terrorism reaches Metro Manila),” Panelo said during a news briefing.
The President placed Mindanao under martial rule after the Islamic State-linked Maute terror group laid siege to Marawi City in 2017.
Congress extended martial law until December 31, 2019.
The National Capital Region [Metro Manila] Police Office (NCRPO) hoisted full alert status days after the Sulu suicide attacks, but it was lifted two days later.
NCRPO chief Guillermo Eleazar, however, said the mobilization of police personnel would continue, as intelligence operations had been intensified to foil any possible terror plans and detect terrorist personalities.
Last week, Duterte said he was strengthening the military and police as he sees “dangerous times” ahead.
“I see very dangerous times ahead. Lumalabas nga ‘yung pawis sa kamay ko (My palms sweat) just thinking about it, if it would go awry outside of Sulu and [the] Basilan Islands,” he added.
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