Lorenzana downplays chances of nationwide martial law
MANILA, Philippines – Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on Friday, September 15, downplayed President Rodrigo Duterte's threats that he would declare nationwide martial law in response to protest actions of leftists.
"Sa aking pananaw naman, estimate ko, very remote naman mangyari but si Presidente naman kasi (In my view, by my estimate, chances are remote but the President), he's very concerned that it might get out of hand so sabi niya (so he said), 'I might declare martial law,'" said Lorenzana on Friday, September 15.
He was speaking at a Malacañang news briefing.
He was asked to clarify Duterte's recent remarks that he might declare martial law if leftists stage violent nationwide demonstrations.
"Do not commit the mistake of staging a rebellion. Iyong sabihin mo na (If you say) there’s fighting on the streets. I will not hesitate to impose martial law all throughout the country and order the arrest of everybody," Duterte had said on Saturday, September 9.
The President has frequently threatened a martial law declaration in the past.
But Lorenzana said chances are low that Leftists have the capability to stage a "massive demonstration" all over the country that would disrupt government work and people's daily activities.
"But I don't think the possibility that the Left will be able to conduct a massive demonstration across the country, disrupting the civil government or the lives of the people. Hindi naman siguro mangyari 'yun (It's not likely to happen)," said the defense chief.
During the Palace news briefing, Lorenzana was asked what factors the President would consider in declaring nationwide martial law.
He said: "The President had said that in the past. He said, 'If the Left will try to have a massive protest, magsunog sila sa kalsada (start fires in the streets), they will disrupt the country, then I might.' He already stated the reasons."
The day before, Duterte said in an interview that he might suspend government work and classes next week due to planned demonstrations by leftist groups. Among the dates when such protests are expected to happen is September 21, the anniversary of martial law.
Fears of a declaration of nationwide military rule was sparked by the declaration of martial law in Mindanao on May 23, following the attack of local terrorists on Marawi City.
Lorenzana, as defense chief, is the administrator of martial law in Mindanao. – Rappler.com