No unsolicited advice from Noy to Rody
Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) - May 24, 2017 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines - Former president Benigno Aquino III is still refraining from giving President Duterte unsolicited advice in the wake of the current Chief Executive’s declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

During his term, Aquino said he considered declaring martial law in Sulu to finally end the Abu Sayyaf scourge but decided against it, as it might only worsen rather than solve the problem.

The former president also said he was advised by the security sector at the time that it was not necessary to impose martial law as the benefits would be marginal.

Duterte declared martial law in Mindanao after hostilities in Marawi City broke out Tuesday. The President has been warning that he would declare martial law in the south if peace and security problems in the area persist.

Aquino said the Constitution was clear about the requirements for imposing martial law but that he could not make any judgment on whether Duterte was correct in making such a decision without complete information about the incident and other circumstances.

The former president said the Abu Sayyaf problem was indeed complex and difficult to deal with, as the group had managed to embed themselves within local communities, especially in Sulu.

But he said his administration had made headway in Basilan in terms of development, reversing community support for the Abu Sayyaf back to the government.

“So that’s how difficult the problem is, which has been going on… for decades now,” Aquino said, adding Abu Sayyaf senior leader Isnilon Hapilon, who was the target of the military operation in Marawi, had been contained before.

“It makes you think why (Hapilon) is able to operate in Marawi… Sulu and other areas (again),” Aquino told journalists in a chance interview during the launching of the book, Politiko 365 in Quezon City.

Aquino said he would see “if there is a need” for him to join the political discourse after a year of stepping down from office.

“Well, at the most, I will perform my role as a citizen of this country,” Aquino said, noting he was enjoying life as private citizen – catching up on his reading as well as with relatives, friends and those who had been with him since he entered public office as Tarlac congressman in 1998.

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