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Wednesday , January 20 2021

Duterte threatens martial law; more ship cases

BANGKOK (AP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte angrily threatened to declare martial law after accusing communist rebels of killing two soldiers who were escorting food and cash deliveries during a coronavirus quarantine.

In this April 23, 2020, photo provided April, 24, 2020, by the Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, right, wearing a protective mask, holds a meeting with members of the Inter-Agency Task Force on the Emerging Infectious Diseases in Malacanang, Manila, Philippines. (Toto Lozano/Malacanang Presidential Photographers Division via AP)

Duterte and his Cabinet also approved extending a lockdown in metropolitan Manila and several other cities and provinces to May 15, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Friday. A lockdown in the main northern Luzon region was set to expire April 30.

“I’m warning everybody and putting the armed forces and the police on notice that I might declare martial law. There will be no turning back,” Duterte said in a televised speech. “I have two more years. I will try to finish all of you,” he said, referring to the communist rebels.

A Muslim woman wears a protective mask as she goes to a public market during an enhanced community quarantine to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus in Manila, Philippines on Thursday April 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Duterte renewed his accusations against the New People’s Army guerrillas, who he said have extorted money from big companies and stolen firearms of slain soldiers in an insurgency that has lasted more than half a century. The rebels have denied his accusations and said they are helping villagers cope with the pandemic.

Roque specified areas where the lockdown, which the government calls a “community quarantine,” can be eased to allow the reopening of some essential businesses. Officials have warned of a severe impact on the economy if the lockdown lasts for months and financial aid depletes government coffers.

The Philippines has reported more than 7,100 cases and 477 deaths from the virus. Many believe the actual toll is higher given limited testing.

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