MANILA, Philippines – Former president and now Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada said President Rodrigo Duterte should take a step further in dealing with the situation in Marawi City by declaring an all-out war against the terrorists.
"It's about time," Estrada said in a press conference on Thursday, May 25. "There is only one plan, one constitution, one government, period. We have to follow the [rule of law]. What kind of government do we have when we cannot impose our own rules in our own lands?"
This comes after the Marawi clashes that erupted Tuesday afternoon, May 23, which prompted the President to declare martial law in Mindanao.
In 2000, President Estrada declared an all-out war against the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) following a series of terrorist attacks in the southern islands. (READ: Tracing back the Philippine Muslim conflict)
"Peace talks, peace, war, peace talks, but [the conflict] is still there, nothing is happening," Estrada said in a mix of English and Filipino."There are so many soldiers dying, so many people dying, so many kidnappings happening."
The Aquino administration – two presidencies after Estrada – engaged in peace talks with the MILF, and reached an agreement to create an autonomous Moro region different from the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. It is in the hands of the Duterte administration to implement, but the government is now proposing shifting to a federal system of government to address the concerns not just of the MILF but other groups it says were left out in the Aquino-time talks.
The rebel group that the Duterte administration is in peace negotiations with is the communist National Democratic Front. (READ: FAST FACTS: The CPP-NPA-NDF and the Oslo talks)
Martial law welcome
"If it is needed, why not? We are behind him as far as going against corruption for peace and order," he said. "Kawawa naman tayo (we're pitiful), we used to be number two to Japan, now we're number two to the last."
Estrada said he would not give unsolicited advice on how an all-out war and martial law should be carried out, but commended President Duterte for his strong demeanor in dealing with the crisis.
"President Duterte does not leave his balls when he goes out of his house, kaya bilib ako doon. Matapang na lalaki (which makes me admire him, he is a tough man)," the Manila mayor said.
In responding to the conflict from Manila, he assured the capital's residents that the city is still on "red alert," continuing random checkpoints and tightening security around prominent establishments. – Rappler.com