WILL President Rodrigo R. Duterte declare martial law or a holiday on Sept. 21?

Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana on Friday, Sept. 15, sought to clarify Mr. Duterte’s recent remarks about the possibility of his declaring martial law nationwide – following after Ferdinand E. Marcos, whose Sept. 21, 1972, martial-law proclamation is expected to be observed next week by critics and followers alike of the late dictator.

Sinabi na rin ni Presidente ‘yan eh (The President already mentioned that). (He said…if the) Left will try to have a massive protest, magsunog sila sa kalsada (burning in the streets), they will disrupt the country, then I might,” Mr. Lorenzana said in a press briefing on Friday.

Sinabi na rin niya ang rason eh. But I don’t think…sa aking pananaw naman, estimate ko…very remote naman mangyari (He also cited the reason. But I don’t think…in my view, my estimate,…that possibility is very remote),” he also said, adding:

Pero si Presidente lang kasi (But the President is just) is very concerned that it might get out of hand. So sabi niya (he said), ‘I might declare martial law.’”

“But I don’t think the possibility that the Left will be able to conduct a massive demonstration across the country, disrupting the civil government or the lives of the people, eh hindi naman siguro mangyayari ‘yun (that probably won’t happen).”

Mr. Lorenzana is currently the martial-law administrator in Mindanao, which Mr. Duterte placed under martial rule on May 23, a state that Congress thereafter extended, amid the still unresolved siege of Marawi City by the terrorist Maute group.

Mr. Lorenzana also disclosed that a number of countries have pledged donations to Marawi’s rehabilitation – Australia, P1 billion; the United States, P730 million; Japan and Thailand, P1 million; and China, P85 million. The European Union has also pledged P49 million, he added.

Despite Mr. Duterte’s raising the possibility of threats from the Left, Mr. Lorenzana said: “Wala naman kaming nakikita (We don’t see any threats)….Our intelligence people or…our field people cannot… do not have any indication that magkakaroon ng talagang malakihan na katulad nung mga nakaraan taon (there’ll be something as big as what happened before)…We do not have that indications in our reports.”

“Even the civilian LGUs, wala din naman silang nararamdaman sa baba eh (they don’t sense anything on the ground),” Mr. Lorenzana also said.

He added: “(D)uring my interaction with him early this week, sinabi niya na…pagka magkaroon ng massive rally sa Metro Manila (he said if there’s a massive rally in Metro Manila), as it might inconvenience the public,…’Hindi ko na lang sila papasukin (I won’t let the workers report for work). I will declare walang papasok sa mga opisina (that no one will go to work).’”

“So just…para…sabi niya, magkaroon sila ng ‘yung demonstration (he said, if they hold a demonstration), they have free hand kung anong gawin nila diyan sa mga demonstration nila (on what they’ll do in their demonstration). That’s what he… he said during our ano (conversation).”

Pero hindi naman niya sinabi kung anong araw (But he didn’t say what day), but since the Left is threatening to have this massive demonstration on the 21st and siguro baka (maybe the) 21stbasta papakiramdaman naman daw niya kung kailan ‘yan gagawin ng Left, ‘yung kanilang threatened demonstration (he’ll see what he would do with regards to their threatened demonstration).” – with Rosemarie A. Zamora