By Genalyn Kabiling
Changing his mind, President Duterte is no longer considering expanding the scope of martial law to the Visayas in case of a spillover of new threats.
Instead, the President cautioned he might suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus in the Visayas to empower government forces in apprehending lawless elements.
“If there is maybe a transfer of venue from Mindanao to the Visayas and to make it easy for the Philippines to challenge the new engagements, I will be forced to declare the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus, not martial law,” Duterte said during the 119th anniversary rites of the Philippine Navy in Davao City Wednesday.
“But ‘yung habeas corpus lang so that I can arrest you anytime without a warrant. That is just a precautionary measure. I don’t think it will happen. I hope it will not happen. But if it does, we must be ready,” he said.
Duterte admitted he was worried about the spread of terror to the Visayas due to its proximity to Mindanao, which is currently under a 60-day martial law to quell a raging rebellion by the Islamic State inspired militants.
He, however acknowledged that the government cannot prohibit people from traveling between Visayas and Mindanao since it is their constitutional right.
“The only reason why I am worried about the Visayas is just it’s a very short span of a sea and, as a matter of fact, if you leave by ship or boat via Cagayan, by morning time you are in the Visayas,” he said.
“It’s a group of islands, it’s very porous and you cannot control any Filipino for that matter be a Moro or a Christian from going anywhere and everywhere. That is the Constitutional right of every Filipino in this country,” he added.
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