Duterte: If no martial law, there'll still be warrantless arrests

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President Rodrigo Duterte spoke at the Davao Investment Conference at the SMX Convention Center in Lanang, Davao City.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 21) — On the eve of a congressional joint session to tackle the extension of martial law in Mindanao, President Rodrigo Duterte said he could do his job of protecting the country even if there were no military rule.

"I can operate with or without martial law. I'll just have to do my duty. It's in my oath of office. I don't need martial law," Duterte said in an interview after speaking at an investment conference in Davao City on Friday.

The chief executive, who had asked Congress for a five-month extension of martial law, said if his requested would not be granted, this wouldn't change how he would deal with insurgents or terrorists.

"Now, 'pag wala na 'yan and if I have to arrest you without a warrant, I will arrest you without a warrant — with or without martial law — if I think that it is part of the war," he pointed out. "If I believe in good faith na kasali ka sa rebelde, huhulihin kita with or without martial law."

[Translation: If there is no martial law and if I have to arrest you without a warrant, I will arrest you without a warrant — with or without martial law — if I think that it is part of the war. If I believe in good faith that you are part of the rebellion, I will arrest you with or without martial law.]

The President — a lawyer and a former prosecutor — however, did not elaborate on how he would legally go about this. Philippine laws allow warrantless arrests under certain situations, like when the person making the arrest has personal knowledge that a crime has been committed or if the offense has been committed in front of him.

Related: De Lima warns: Martial law extension 'foregone conclusion'

When asked why he needed martial law until the end of the year, the chief executive said he would need the time to rehabilitate the devastated Islamic city. He said the five months would also be needed for mopping up operations as there could be possible retaliation from lawless elements.

The 72-year-old former mayor, however, said he would be open to cutting short the five-month period if the situation would not call for it anymore.

"Well, if there is no more ISIS doing its thing, there is no more rebellion. What am I supposed to do with martial law? I get my salary with or without a martial law."

Taking too long?

Meanwhile, the President pointed out a situation that's been keeping government troops from finishing the job in Marawi.

Related: Duterte to soldiers fighting Mautes: No prisoners, kill them all

He said terrorists continued to occupy a big mosque with underground tunnels -- and they had some 300 hostages.

Duterte, who was in Marawi yesterday, said he told the troops to wait it out so as not to risk the lives of the hostages.

"(I told them), 'Do not attack.'"

The President also said again that the Marawi siege would "soon be over."

CNN Philippines' Ina Andolong contributed to this report.