Duterte: No plans to declare martial law

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — In the wake of recent talks about the possibility of another martial law, President Rodrigo Duterte settled the matter on Thursday by saying that placing the country under military rule was far from his mind.

Duterte said he found no reason nor relevance for it.

"Kalokohan 'yan. Nag-martial law man tayo noon, anong nangyari? Gumaling ba ang buhay natin hanggang ngayon? Wala," he said speaking at the Third ARMM Local Government Summit in Davao City.

[Translation: That's nonsense. We had martial law before, what happened? Did it improve our lives now? Not at all.]

The President said martial law was not the answer to the growth of extremism in the south. He also said killing all religious extremists, like the Maute Group, would lead to nowhere.

Talks about another martial cropped up after Duterte had floated the idea of suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus. And two days ago, an ambush on a presidential advance-party convoy which some have said to have been staged by the government — reminiscent of the events before the 1972 martial law declaration.

Related: Lawlessness not enough to suspend privilege of writ of habeas corpus – legal experts

But instead of martial rule, Duterte told local officials that he'd rather give them blanket authority to issue necessary orders.

"Martial law for what? Killing people? I would rather empower every mayor."

The President also called on the Maute Group to lay down their arms.

"Mamatay ka lang. Ilan? 50 lang kayo tapos maglaban kayo sa Armed Forces, kalokohan."

[Translation: You will all just end up dead. You have 50 members going against an entire army. That's foolhardy.]

Duterte also repeated that federalism would be the real solution to the conflicts in Mindanao — saying he would gladly step down should this form of government be installed in the country.

"We need to unite now or our grandchildren will suffer... If you can craft a federal set up in 3 years with a strong president, I will resign," he said.

"If I cannot work out a system after Oslo in Norway, I cannot work on the federal setup and make it work, then I would tell you, I am a failure, and I would concede my being a President."