Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte may declare nationwide martial law if threatened massive protests by communists and other leftists against his rule turn violent or disrupt the country, his defence chief said on Friday (Sep 15).

“He said, if the left will try to have a massive protest, start fires on the streets, they will disrupt the country, then I might (declare martial law),” Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana told reporters, recounting a conversation with Duterte this week.

Lorenzana emphasised he thought the chances of Duterte declaring martial law were remote because he doubted the scheduled protests on Thursday next week would be as big as the organisers said they were planning.

“But the president is indeed very concerned because it might get out of hand. So he said I might declare martial law.”

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