PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte mulled the lifting of martial law but cancelled as he feared the possible spillover of terrorism in neighboring cities and municipalities in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (Armm).
“I was thinking that we could, you know, lift it earlier. But the way it looks, parang may spillover na sa Armm eh, sa Buldon,” Duterte said in the middle of his speech during the 11th founding anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao City.
Buldon is a municipality in Maguindanao where Duterte said that there might be presence of terrorists.
Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao last May 23, hours after the Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City, forcing residents to flee from their homes and seek temporary shelter in evacuation centers and their relatives in nearby cities.
Martial law is on its fourth month after it was extended by Congress until December on the request of President Duterte due to the ongoing battle. Duterte, however, said that he wanted to lift it earlier to start rehabilitation in the war-torn city.
He also advised his troops to take gradual steps and not hurry because he does not want the death toll to increase particularly among civilians and even the military officers.
He will just rely on the assessment to be submitted to him by ground troops if it is time to end the martial law.
“Let us see. If it is to the interest of the country that I will lift it, I will lift it. But if not, then we’ll just have to continue with the martial law,” he said.
The President cited cultural and ideological implications that delayed government troops from taking full control of the Marawi crisis.
“Unang-una, sinabi ko dahan-dahan lang, we cannot destroy the mosque because wala ng katapusan ang hatred dyan baka ito mahilot pa and second, I do not want blood di bale ako ikaw tayo mamatay pasok ako sa Marawi kung panahon na ma-target tayo edi panahon na,” he said.
Duterte also admitted that he grieved every night because of the increasing number of fatalities in the ongoing war.