Updated 11:40 AM PHT Fri, March 10, 2017
Davao City (CNN Philippines) — President Rodrigo Duterte pleaded for the help of local officials in Mindanao in combating terrorism, saying local officials are key in stamping out terror groups.
If they don't help him, the President said he will be compelled to exercise extraordinary powers and declare martial law in Mindanao.
"I now face the enormity of the problem of dealing with this violence that's almost unstoppable. Wala akong I have no choice so mag-usap tayo. Either tulungan ninyo ako (I have no choice, so let's talk. Either you help me), or I will declare martial law tomorrow for Mindanao," he told more than a hundred officials Thursday night in Davao City.
During his speech, he said he cannot allow violence in Mindanao to spin out of control.
Duterte said while the Supreme Court and Congress may dissent at first, he's confident he could sway them to agree that martial law is necessary to put an end to conflict.
At a chance interview with reporters after his speech, the President, however, clarified he was just "shooting the breeze" with the local officials, and that there is no timeline on the possible declaration of martial rule in the region.
He also took the opportunity to discuss failed negotiations with the New People's Army (NPA).
The President said the current situation with the communist rebels saddens him, but added he has no choice but to wage war on the NPA as the rebels continue to go after his men.
Rape in death penalty bill
Earlier, Duterte said he clarified with Lower House lawmakers why rape was taken out on the list of crimes punishable by death.
The President met with House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and Senate President Koko Pimentel on Tuesday night, after the bill reviving death penalty was passed on final reading.
He said Alvarez explained lawmakers could not reach a consensus if rape and plunder should be on the list of heinous crimes.
When asked if he would sign a death penalty revival bill without rape into law, Duterte said it would be insufficient.
Duterte said, "Medyo kulang. Dapat yung rape with homicide, rapin ka tapos patayin ka, rapin ka tapos kunan ka ng pera tapos patayin ka, dapat ano talaga...heinous crime 'yan."
[Translation: It's a little lacking. Rape with homicide; rape with theft and homicide should be considered a heinous crime.]