MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he was not amenable to placing the entire country under martial law.
Speaking to reporters in Lapu-Lapu City, Duterte said declaring martial law nationwide “is not feasible” as it will lead to a “divided nation.”
The President said this as he was asked to clarify what he meant when he said he would soon make “radical changes in the coming days” as he lamented that “too many crimes” were happening in the country.
Duterte acknowledged that the Marcos-era martial law was “unpopular” because of the “abuses committed.”
“That cannot happen in my time… I will not allow somebody oppressing,” he said.
The President admitted that the peace and order situation in the country was deteriorating, adding that he would quiz the police about the matter.
The entire Philippines remains under a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence, which Duterte declared in September 2016 following the bombing incident in Davao City.
Mindanao, meanwhile, has been under martial law since May 2017 after the Marawi siege erupted.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Thursday press briefing that Duterte may have been particularly alarmed by the recent killings of two prosecutors - Quezon City Assistant Prosecutor Rogelio Velasco and Assistant Special Prosecutor Madonna Joy Tanyag of the Office of the Ombudsman.
Duterte was a former prosecutor.
“Siguro po kaya na-frustrate ang Presidente, dahil dalawang prosecutors ang napatay. Iyung isa po buntis pa,” Roque said in a press briefing.
(He was probably frustrated after two prosecutors were killed. One of them was even pregnant.)
“Bukod pa d'yan maraming napapabalitang mga holdapan na nangyayari ngayon, mga bagong schemes na nabibiktima ang mga motorista natin,”
(And there are reports that there is an increase in robbery incidents in Metro Manila and other schemes that victimize motorists.)
Roque said the President, who won on a platform of eradicating crimes in the country, believes there is room for improvement in the fight against crimes.
“The President reiterated that while we have been combatting crime and prohibited drugs since day 1 of this administration, apparently we can do more,” he said.
Roque said police chief Oscar Albayalde was aware of the President’s concerns and has called for a meeting to address them.
Duterte, meanwhile, said he was not yet ready to reveal which government agencies he would place under his direct supervision.
“If I say it now, the secretary handling the agencies will get hurt,” he said.