PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ordered the government forces to specifically guard the waters between Dipolog, Zamboanga del Norte and Dumaguete, Negros Oriental to prevent the Maute terror group from entering Visayas.
Duterte told reporters during his visit to the 401st Brigade of the 4th Infantry Division Advance Command Post in Butuan City on Saturday that there is a possibility that the Maute militants could escape Mindanao using this route.
"I was toying with the possibility that kung magpuntahan sila sa Visayas, that --- ‘yang Dumaguete, Dipolog na ‘yan is just a short run...you can go to Cebu, Dumaguete. 'Yan ang ginaguwardiyahan ko ngayon," he said.
Duterte reiterated his warning that if the terrorists could enter Visayas, he might suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.
"Kung makapasok diyan tapos nandiyan sila, I will not declare martial law there but pipick-up-in ko nalang sila na walang warrant kasi galing sila doon (Mindanao) eh. It’s a continuing crime," he said.
Rebellion, a continuing crime which is punishable under Article 134 of the Revised Penal Code, is one of the bases of Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao. The other basis is invasion.
"When you connect the rebellion, whether the place is under martial law or not, you can be arrested anytime. That was the rationale when I said that itong Visayas baka magkaroon ito ng suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Para pick up lang ako ng pick up. Dito, they are allowed to do that," Duterte explained.
He said the government forces are not duty bound to secure a search or arrest warrant because by that time before they could be granted the request by the court, many soldiers could have been killed already.
"Gusto ko pasukin ang bahay. By the time makahanap ako ng judge diyan sa Marawi kung sino, kung may makita kang isa at pumirma, by that time siguro sampu na ang sundalo ko na disgrasya," he said. (SDR/SunStar Philippines)