MANILA, Philippines — (UPDATE – 7:24 a.m.) “I’d be harsh,” President Rodrigo Duterte said as he warned that “martial law is martial law” and what he declared over Mindanao may not be too different from what the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos did after he placed the country under military rule in 1972.
At the same time, he also hinted that he might extend the declaration — originally for 60 days, the Constitutional limit — for up to a year.
Duterte’s warning was made in a video taken by Assistant Communications Secretary Mocha Uson Wednesday morning Manila time, shortly before he took off from Moscow after cutting short his visit to Russia to respond to the emergency triggered by the fighting between government forces and what are described as local terrorists in Marawi City.
He is expected to be back in the country late Wednesday afternoon.
Duterte said his declaration of martial law was necessary “to preserve the Republic of the Philippines.”
“… kayong mga kababayan ko (my countrymen) who have experienced martial law, it may not be too different from what President Marcos did … I’d be harsh…” he said.
“How long? If it would take a year to do (deal with the emergency), we’ll do it … if it’s over within a month, then I’d be happy,” he said.
Since he assumed office last year, Duterte has issued several warnings about the possibility of declaring martial law.
He also confirmed meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin for an hour during which “I was able to communicate all the things that I wanted to tell him.”
Uson posted the video to her Facebook page.