By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter
PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday warned cryptically there will be “radical” changes “in the coming days.”
“There will be changes in the coming days, including public order and security. There are simply too many crimes,” Mr. Duterte said in a media interview on Tuesday evening at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 upon his arrival from a three-day official visit to South Korea.
He added: “There is no difference actually between martial law and a declaration of national emergency. So, I’ve been warning all. I’m warning all including the human rights (advocates) that it’s either we behave or we will have a serious problem again.”
Sought for comment, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador S. Panelo said in an interview at the Palace on Wednesday that Mr. Duterte was only “warning the criminals.”
“What he’s saying is that if you people are doing your worst and there is no stopping you, then he will be forced to use his emergency powers. It’s just a warning. It depends on how the situation develops,” Mr. Panelo said. With the state of national emergency, he explained that all the President “could do is ask the military and the police to enforce the law vigorously.”
Mr. Duterte noted as well that “most of the complaints” among foreigners are on “kidnapping and killing.”
“Di papasok dito kasi takot kidnapin, patayin (They do not want to come here because they are afraid they might be kidnapped or killed). Well, somehow, even with this meager emergency power, I will use it to the hilt and put things in order,” he said.
Without naming any agency, he said “those offices that cannot be controlled will be placed under the Office of the President.”
“Ako na mismo ang kaharap mo araw-araw (I will be in front of you every day),” he added.
In his speech to South Korean businessmen on Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Duterte assured they will be “safe and sound” in the Philippines.
“I know that there are a lot of misgivings about the law and order situation in the Philippines. I must admit there were some incidents in the past that did not augur well for people to even consider the Philippines as an investment area. Like just any other country, we’re facing numerous law and order problems including my own National Police,” he said.
In 2016, Korean businessman and former Hanjin Shipping executive Jee Ick-Joo was kidnapped and killed by rogue policemen right in the Philippine National Police (PNP) headquarters in Quezon City.
“I assure you, there will be law and order,” he also said.