MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday, May 24, that he is considering to expand the implementation of martial law to the entire Philippines after he placed Mindanao under military rule.
Duterte said he might expand martial law to the Visayas and Luzon if the threat of the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS) persists. (READ: Duterte says martial law due to ISIS threat)
"If I think that the ISIS has already taken foothold also in Luzon, and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people," Duterte said in a press briefing upon his arrival from an official trip to Russia on Wednesday.
Initially, Duterte volunteered that he may decide to expand the scope of martial rule to the Visayas, as it is right beside Mindanao.
"I may decide to expand the area to include the Visayas because it is a walking distance actually," he said.
"I might also decide to suspend the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas. Remember that this is not intended for the law-abiding citizens. We are the least of your worries," the President added.
Later, Duterte said he would also consider placing Luzon under the scope of martial rule, or a nationwide imposition of martial law.
Duterte made these remarks a day after he declared martial law in Mindanao on Tuesday, May 23, due to a terror attack by the Maute Group in Marawi City.
Critics of the martial law declaration deemed it as a prelude to the imposition of martial rule nationwide. (READ: After Mindanao, Duterte wants to put PH under martial law – Trillanes)
Duterte on Wednesday morning said he will be "harsh" in implementing martial law, which he said "will not be any different" from the military rule under dictator Ferdinand Marcos.
The President had earlier warned about martial law in Mindanao. The last time he raised this prospect was on May 19, or 4 days before he declared martial law in the southern Philippines.
"And if I declare martial law in Mindanao, I will solve all that ails the island," Duterte said on May 19.
Clashes in Marawi City began on Tuesday afternoon after the Philippine military launched a surgical strike against "high-value targets" belonging to the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Maute Group. Two soldiers and one cop have been killed.
With a population of more than 201,780 people, Marawi is the most populous city in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). – Rappler.com
Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at email@example.com.