DAVAO CITY-- Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Gov. Mujiv Hataman and Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu strongly backed President Rodrigo Duterte's campaign against terrorism, noting it could help accelerate an end to violence in Mindanao.
Hataman, who was among the 300 Mindanao local chief executives called for a meeting with the President on Thursday evening at the SMX Convention Center here, said "we need to support the call of the President to end terrorism as soon as possible."
Hataman said the local leaders should be at the forefront of the fight against terrorism.
"Ako naniniwala po ako kung aktibo ang ating LGUs sa laban na ito, mabilis natin matapos ang problema na ito (I believe that if our LGUs are active in this fight, we can immediately end this problem)," Hataman said.
For his part, Mangudadatu, who came in with his local leaders for the gathering, assured their cooperation and support. He said they are always cooperating with the President in his campaign against terrorism, drugs and criminality.
"Maganda ito - nare-remind tayo kaysa hindi tayo pinapatawag (This is good that we are reminded than not called at all)," Mangundadatu told reporters. He said this is already the third time they were called by the President to a gathering.
Mangungudatu believed that if the problem of terrorism and lawlessness in Mindanao is solved, that would "redound to reduction of violence in the country by 70 percent."
ARMM comprises the provinces of Sulu, Basilan, Tawi-Tawi, Lanao del Sur and Maguindanao with a total of 75 municipalities and three cities. Maguindanao alone has 28 municipalities.
During his speech, President Duterte asked the support of the governors and mayors of ARMM and those from central and northern Mindanao to back him in fighting lawlessness.The President stressed that he does not want the trouble in Mindanao to spin out of control.
"So that's why I called for you because kayo lang ang pwede talagang (you are the only ones who can) prevent it (terrorism) from spinning out of control," he said.
The President noted that if he cannot get the support of the local leaders, he might be compelled to exercise extraordinary powers by declaring Martial Law.
"You have had experience in Martial Law and it could be a brutal war, just like any other ideological war," he pointed out.
In a press interview, Duterte explained he was just "shooting-the-breeze" about Martial Law declaration and that he does not really want to do it because it is not good.
The President also said he might be compelled to declare Martial Law in Manila if the day-to-day violence there will get out of control.
"I cannot preside over the affairs of the country kung ganoon lang (if that's the case)," he said, adding that either he solves the problem or leave the presidency.
Source: Philippines News Agency