Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has warned he will declare a revolutionary government and arrest all his critics if a plot to oust him escalates.
“I will not hesitate to declare a revolutionary government until the end of my term and I will arrest all of you and we can go to a full scale war against the Reds,” he said.
For days senior officials and Duterte’s administration have been warning of a plot to overthrow the mercurial president whose war on drugs has left more than 10,000 mostly poor Filipinos dead in the largest loss of civilian lives in Asia since the 1970s.
Armed forces chief Restituto Padilla said last week that Maoist rebels and lawless armed groups in the southern Philippines have initiated destabilisation moves against 72 year-old Durtere, a former provincial mayor.
Duterte said in a television interview he would declare a revolutionary government instead of nation-wide martial law “if they have destabilised the nation” because he would then not have to answer to the country’s parliament.
Many pro-democracy and civil society groups have warned Duterte not to return the Philippines to a dictatorship like that of the corrupt dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was forced to flee the country with his family and cronies amid people-power revolution in 1986.
Duterte warned last week that terrorists aligned with Islamic State could launch simultaneous attacks on several cities in the southern Philippines like they did on Marawi on May 23, sparking as months-long siege that has killed hundreds of people and left the city of 300,000 almost totally destroyed.
“There will be violence everywhere….they will not disappear,” Duterte said at the groundbreaking of a military housing project.
“I’m warning you, soldiers of the republic, what if they strike at five places at once? That’s what coming into my office.”
The attack on Marawi took the Philippine armed forces by surprise and has stoked fears that Islamic State could establish a foothold in the southern Philippines as its fighters are forced from Syria and Iraq.
Duterte said he hopes the siege will end within a week but he has made similar comments as the battle has dragged on.
“There will be no let-up until the last terrorist is taken out,” he said.
The militants are using hostages as human shields.
Meanwhile, in Malaysia police say they arrested 45 foreign terrorist fighters between January and October who had been planning attacks in either Malaysia or other countries.
They included three of Islamic State’s southern Iraq commanders, they said.
– The Age