By CRIS DIAZ
READ my mind. There is now a strong indication that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is going to declare a nationwide military rule. Call it nonsensical, but the grounds for the declaration of the nationwide Martial Law is gradually shaping up.
Undoubtedly, this time, the Roman Catholic Church has started the laying of the groundwork for the imposition of the military rule.
Starting this week, the Catholic Bishop Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) has directed all Roman Catholic Churches to toll the church bells at 8:00 p.m. for at least five minutes.
In a statement, the CBCP said that the tolling of the church bells would be to honor the victims of the atrocities of Pres. Duterte’s anti-illegal drug war. The tolling of the bells would last for 40 nights.
Political observers interpreted the CBCP’s action as a signal of a nationwide protest, expected to heighten during the Martial Law anniversary next month of Sept. 21. In response, Duterte could be entertaining several options.
Perhaps, Duterte would expand Martial Law from Mindanao to the entire island of the country. However, the declaration of Martial Law throughout the country would likely depend on how the protesters would carry themselves during the planned street protests.
This early, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) are preparing for the Sept. 21 mass protests. While Duterte welcomed the protests. He promised to allow the protesters to freely express their sentiments, but, he warned that the government is ready to meet any anarchy in the street with equal heat.
The President knows that the leftist and the militant organizations would take center stage during the scheduled rally in September and beyond.
With the failure of the peace talk between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), the hope for the revival of the peace negotiation is nil. The situation was exacerbated with the open verbal tussle of Duterte and Jose Maria Sison, the founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP). Aside from the personal verbal tirade of Duterte and Sison, the militant groups in the country have expressed dismay over the rejection of cabinet Secretaries who were appointed by the President. The secretary of the country’s social welfare and development and the department of the agrarian reform has the backing and support of the militant group.
The rejection of the Commissions on Appointment (CA) of Social Welfare Secretary Judy Tagiwalo and Agrarian Reform Secretary Ka. Paeng Mariano has bolstered the thoughts that the rejection was an offshoot of the failure of the peace talk.
The government’s negotiating panel, however, still hopes that the resumption of the talks would take place anytime soon.
Matter of fact, the government has reported that a “back channel” negotiation with the reds has been going on since the peace talk scuttled mid this year. It is, however, unfortunate that the government made the announcement only a day after the CBCP announced the impending mass rally in September.
Perhaps, the peace talk would no longer go any further when the leftist has replied that they have rejected the call of the GRP to return to the negotiating table. In the light of this development, the CBCP’s call could result in street protest, which might end up physical.
Duterte told top military officials that a nationwide martial law would likely happen if the protesters would initiate actions that would trigger civil disturbance. Like in the past, a visceral street protest led to the burning of tires in the streets and paralyzing the transportation. Duterte has issued a warning that the government would not tolerate anarchy in the street and would meet the protesters along the way, if only to quell the anarchy.
The other day, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana issued a statement to dispel the reports that President Duterte would declare Martial Law throughout the country. “The idea that Martial Law would be declared throughout the country is far from President Duterte’s mind,” Lorenzana said.
Lorenzana’s statement run in contrast to his statement moved on the news wires of the Agence France Presse (AFP) Friday.
The AFP report quoted Lorenzana as saying: “President Rodrigo Duterte may declare nationwide martial law if threatened protests by communists and other leftists against his rule turn violent or disrupt the country.”
Whether Lorenzana was serious, a slipped of the tongue from a top defense official, would certainly create varied reactions from among the countrymen. Lorenzana’s statement was enough to forewarn everyone that the government is now concocting something to counter street protests in the future. -0- Email reaction/comments: [email protected]
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