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By Genalyn Kabiling

President Duterte has ruled out expanding the coverage of martial law in the country but is prepared to do “what is necessary” to prevent the Philippines’ “disintegration.”

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (ALBERT ALCAIN / PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

The President made it clear that his drastic plan does not include the expansion of martial law proclamation.

“I never said, I’ll declare martial law. I said, I’ll do something drastic. ‘Yung martial law ‘yun na lang ‘yung haka-haka nila [Martial law is what they speculate on],” said Duterte, who earlier said he was facing problems such as the illegal drug trade, communist insurgency, and terrorism.

“But remember this as I have told the city mayors, I will never declare martial law because as a lawyer, walang ano ‘yan. Bakit mo i-declare na martial law? [Why will you declare martial law?] You do not go after the law-abiding citizens. You do not go after them, you go after the enemies. So what’s the problem of signing a document against your enemy?” he said.

The President, however, declined to give more details about his drastic measure if there is an escalation of violence.

“I have an idea of what to do. Pero sa akin lang ‘yan. I do not even share it with the military,” he said.

In a recent assembly of local government officials in Malacañang, the President has vowed to take a drastic measure to protect the nation and keep peace and order, although he has ruled out expanding martial law beyond Mindanao.

“If things would capsize or begin to capsize, then I would know what to do,” Duterte said during the oath-taking of new officers of the League of Provinces of the Philippines at the Palace on Tuesday.

“If you think that I am here to just protect the Filipinos who are alive, it is also to prevent the disintegration of the country. For then there would be no Republic of the Philippines to talk about…I will do what is necessary to protect my country,” he said.

Duterte, who earlier declared he was confronting problems such as illegal drug trade, communist insurgency, and terrorism, however, remained confident that the country was far from facing extinction.

“Every lawyer in town and every Filipino would really say that they would understand me of what I will do. But that is when we are towards extinction. And that is very far away. You have so many Filipinos to kill to do that,” he said.

“But if the Republic begins to disintegrate and a lot of things and it changes the whole concept of democracy, ibang istorya na ‘yan [That’s a different story],” he added.

The President earlier ruled out placing Negros Island under martial law, saying he would rather deploy more government troops to the area to quell lawless elements. Duterte made the proposal after deploring the “unbridled” and “unabated” killings supposedly perpetrated by communist rebels in Negros in recent weeks.

Mindanao has been placed under martial law since the terror siege in Marawi City last May 2017. The proclamation, that included the suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, will expire at the end of the year.