President Duterte is mulling on bringing more government troops with him to Lanao del Sur if reports of violence continue in the province amid the election period.
The President has expressed concern about the “trouble” in Lanao province and bared plans to visit the area to help keep peace and order. He warned the groups sowing violence to stop their unlawful activities or else face the full force of the law.
“I’m talking about the trouble that is now going on in Lanao del Sur. Either you stop it or marami diyan, failure of an election kung hindi makaboto o talagang plain terrorism,” Duterte said during an administration campaign rally in Pasig City last Saturday. “Pagka ganun, pagbalik ko diyan magdala na ako ng maraming sundalo,” he added.
The commander-in-chief justified the possibility of taking the military option to help address the peace and order problem in Lanao, citing the existing proclamation of martial law in Mindanao. “You must remember that until now martial law exists in Mindanao. Do not force me. Do not force my hand to do something which you might not like and hate me for all time,” he added.
Martial law was declared in Mindanao following the deadly terror siege in Marawi City in May 2017. The constitutionality of the extension of martial law until Dec. 31, 2019 has been upheld by the Supreme Court despite criticisms from some rights groups.
The President assured that government troops would remain neutral while performing their duty to ensure peace and order especially during the election period.
“Kaibigan man tayo o hindi, administration, hindi, neutral ako pati neutral ang pulis, neutral ang sundalo. That’s the order of the day. Wala – kaya ‘yung dito, ang gulo eh, I will… Kaya sinasabi ko nga na baka lilipad ako doon para pagsabihan lang,” he said.
Duterte directed troops to conduct checkpoints and seize loose firearms to help keep peace and order. He also reminded candidates are only allowed to have two bodyguards but are not permitted to carry high-powered firearms.
“Ngayon, ‘pag dumaan ka ng checkpoint ang order ko sa Army pati pulis, ‘pag may firearm ka na M-16 o M-14, ‘pag sinabi ng pulis pati military ibaba mo ‘yan i-surrender mo. ‘Pag hindi mo sinunod ‘yan sabihin ko – sabi ko sa pulis pati military, patayin mo, patayin mo,” he said.
“Kasi lumalaban, that’s defiance. So how can you arrest a person who does not want to surrender? Eh ‘di patayin mo. ‘Yan ang utos ko sa lahat. Buong Pilipinas ‘yan,” he added. (Genalyn Kabiling)