MANILA – Despite the spate of killings on Negros Island in the past weeks, President Rodrigo Duterte will not impose martial law there, at least for now, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo made this assurance nearly a week after he said Duterte can declare martial law to quell lawless violence in Negros Oriental.
Panelo, who is also Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, explained that martial law can only be declared in case of invasion or rebellion or when public safety warrants it.
“Martial law will only be imposed in accordance with the Constitution. Just like in Negros — I asked him last night about Negros, ang sinabi niya (and he said) you and I are lawyers, we know that we cannot just impose martial law unless the requirements are there,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.
“Under the Constitution, kailangan may (there should be) rebellion. So, sa ngayon eh patayan pa lang na — unbridled patayan pa lang (For now, it’s just killings, unbridled killings),” he added.
Panelo said Duterte has ordered 300 Special Action Force (SAF) troops to Negros Island to augment the local police in anti-criminality and internal security operations there.
On July 18 this year, four police intelligence operatives were tortured and killed in Barangay Mabato in Ayungon town.
From July 23 to July 28, a total of 13 people were killed — including a lawyer tagged as sympathetic to the NPA in Guihulngan City, a former mayor of Ayungon town, an incumbent councilor of Canlaon City, a barangay captain in Canlaon City, a school principal and his sister, who is an official of the Department of Education (DepEd) in Guihulngan City and a barangay captain, also in Guihulngan City.
Martial law in Mindanao was declared on May 23, 2017 following attacks launched by the ISIS-inspired Maute Group in Marawi City and has been extended thrice until December 2019. (PNA / )