By Christina Mendez
MANILA, Philippines - After President Duterte warned of imposing martial law in Mindanao should local officials fail to address the peace and order situation in the region, two Palace officials yesterday expressed different opinions on whether the President was serious about his threat.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella downplayed Duterte’s warning, saying the President is not a dictator despite having a strong stance against drugs and corruption.
“The President is not a dictator. The legislative and judiciary are independent from each other and we’re cooperating with them,” Abella said over the state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
But Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno believes Duterte is serious with his threats in Mindanao and just wants local officials to take the lead.
“If they don’t act, the President is really serious about martial law,” Sueno said referring to local officials in Mindanao.
Abella’s reference to a “dictator” came in the wake of Duterte’s statement that he might be compelled to declare martial law in Mindanao if local officials would not help him in the fight against terrorism, extremism and rebellion.
Sueno said Duterte felt that local government officials in Mindanao are not doing enough to address the security problem.
“In previous years, it seemed the local chief executives just leave the peace and order problem to the military and police. They do not take the lead,” he said.
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