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READ HIS LIPS | 'Martial law? Kalokohan iyan.' - Duterte

Reuters file photo of President Duterte.
The online news portal of TV5

MANILA - "Kalokohan iyan." That was how President Duterte dismissed continuing speculation that he will eventually declare Martial Law, and that the alarming incidents that prompted a "Terror Alert 3" by the National Police were part of the mind-conditioning for that.

Speaking at the ARMM Local Government Summit Thursday, Duterte confronted head-on the numerous warnings raised by various sectors anxious that his administration may be laying the groundwork for imposing draconian measures, such as the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, and even martial law itself.

Duterte said, "Martial Law - kalokohan yan. Nag-Martial Law tayo noon, ano nangyari? Gumaling ba ang buhay natin? Hanggang ngayon, wala [Martial law? That's foolishness. We had Martial Law before, and what happened? Did our lives improve? Until now, nothing has]."

He said the strong security measures taken after the arrest of two suspects of an alleged terror cell that planted an improvised explosive device (IED) near the US Embassy in Manila, and the offensive against the Maute Group in Central Mindanao, were all part of their response since he declared a state of lawlessness following the Sept. 2 Davao market bombing.

"Ang iniiwasan natin yung [What we're fighting is] extremism," Duterte explained.

He said once the constitutional amendments he is pushing - leading toward federalism - are completed, and Parliament is in place and an election is held for a president "I will willingly resign."

Duterte sttressed, "I will not hang on to power. I do not need it."

The President insisted, "I do not allow oppression in this country," a remark apparently directed at those who openly fret that his closeness to the Marcos family might indicate a tendency to follow in the late dictator's footsteps.

On Wednesday (Nov. 30), thousands marked National Heroes' Day with protests around the country to denounce his administration's move to allow the burial of Ferdinand Marcos' remains at Libingan ng mga Bayani, following a high court ruling upholding the same.