By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte is prepared to exercise his emergency powers, including martial law declaration, if the terror threat spills over in Metro Manila, a Palace official said Thursday.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the President is “very concerned” about security issues, including the reported involvement of a Filipino suicide bomber in the recent Sulu blasts, and will use such constitutional powers if pushed to the wall.
“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. Puwede niyang gawin lahat iyon [He can do everything],” Panelo said during a Palace press briefing.
“The military or all the Armed Forces of the Philippines under the Constitution are obligated to protect the people – and the President can use the Armed Forces of the Philippines,” he said.
Panelo issued the statement after authorities confirmed that one of the two attackers behind the twin blasts in Indanan, Sulu was a Filipino suicide bomber. Eight people were killed and several others were wounded in the recent blasts near a military camp in Sulu.
Mindanao still remains under martial law to quell lawless violence since the deadly terror siege in Marawi City in May 2017.
According to Panelo, the President has warned enemies of the state that he would not allow the “disintegration” of the nation.
“He said ‘Don’t force me to wall. ‘Pag hindi kayo tumigil [If you don’t stop] I’ll be compelled to use powers granted to me by the Constitution’ lalung-lalo pa kung iyong terorismo eh makarating dito sa Maynila, iyon ang kinakatakot niya nga eh… kasi may suicide bomber na eh [especially when terrorism spreads to Manila. That’s what he is afraid of because there’s already a suicide bomber],” he said.
“He’s very concerned about that. Kaya hindi iba, nagwa-warning siya sa mga enemies of the state [so he’s warning the enemies of the state] ‘Don’t force my hand into it. I will not allow the disintegration of this country,'” he added.
Last week, the President warned of “very dangerous times” ahead in the country amid concerns of a possible spillover of the Sulu attacks. He said he intends to continue to enhance the military’s weapon and other defense equipment to ensure public safety and protection.