MANILA, Philippines, Sept 16, (Agencies): The Philippine defense secretary said Friday that President Rodrigo Duterte has considered the possibility of placing the entire country under martial rule over fears of planned leftwing protests getting out of control, but added that the prospect of such a step is “very remote.” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Duterte has thought of expanding a previous declaration of martial law in the south to cover the entire Philippines due to fears the protests could spiral out of hand and threaten the government and public safety.
Lorenzana, however, belittled the capability of left-wing activists to stage massive protests nationwide. One is planned for next Thursday to mark the anniversary of the 1972 martial law declaration by late dictator Ferdinand Marcos that was associated with massive human rights violations and muzzling of civil liberties. Asked about the prospects of such a declaration, Lorenzana quoted Duterte as saying recently, “’If the left will try to have a massive protest, they’ll ignite fires in the street, they will disrupt the country, then I might.’” Lorenzana, however, told a news conference the prospect of expanded martial law is “very remote,” adding that the military and local governments have not monitored any planned massive protests by anti-government groups. “We do not have those indications in our reports,” he said.
Meanwhile, Duterte’s deadly drug war and armed Islamist rebellion pose “rising” risks to the Philippine economy, though it should continue to grow robustly in the short term, Moody’s Investors Service said. Duterte is battling militants in the southern city of Marawi, while rights groups have accused him of orchestrating a crime against humanity with police killing more than 3,800 drug suspects in 14 months.
“The re-emergence of conflict in the southern Philippines, as well as the Duterte administration’s focus on the eradication of illegal drugs, represents a rising but unlikely risk of a deterioration in economic performance and institutional strength,” the credit ratings agency said. Sound economic and fiscal policies including a focus on infrastructure development balance out political and other risks, it said in a country report released on Friday that affirmed the Philippines’ investment-grade credit rating and stable outlook.
MANILA, Philippines: A Philippine official on Friday ordered the relief of an entire city police force in metropolitan Manila after some of its members were suspected in the gruesome killings of three teenagers and were caught by closed circuit television robbing a house. The 1,200-strong Caloocan city police force will be relieved in batches and replaced, said metropolitan Manila police chief Oscar Albayalde. The officers will undergo 45 days of retraining, after which those facing no charges can be reassigned to other stations