Duterte says no martial law, but sends more soldiers to Negros Oriental
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Tuesday he would not declare martial law in Negros Oriental but would send more soldiers to the province where there were a spate of killings during the past weeks.
"You have a ruckus there in Negros. The drastic action that I said was that I will fill (the province) with soldiers just like Jolo," he said in during the mass oath taking of the newly-elected officers of the League of Cities of the Philippines and Liga ng mga Barangay in Malacanang.
"I have one division, then I will send more. You know, life is not really that good, that comfortable, especially with so many military around and so many checkpoints," the President said.
He said if trouble continues, the military would be "quite stringent."
"Look, there will never be a time that I will declare martial law. What I said was that I would take drastic actions. Martial law and deployment of the troops there, it's the same. It has nothing to do with...you do not go after innocent people. Martial law, you go after the lawless elements. So why do you have to declare it? Why do I have to tell Congress?" he explained.
But if the situation deteriorates, he might declare "another thing," he said without elaborating.
"And that is for you to guess what would it be. But martial law, suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, it's just a proclamation, nothing," he said, adding that martial law would only be imposed in Mindanao because of rebellion.
At least 21 people were reported killed in Negros Oriental since July 18, when four policemen were shot dead and allegedly tortured by the communist New People's Army. Celerina Monte/DMS