"I will declare martial law" if drug problem "virulent", says Philippine President Duterte

Duterte says no one can stop him from imposing the law, not even the the Supreme Court and Congress.

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte attends a news conference during his visit in Beijing Reuters

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said if the drug problem becomes "very virulent" in the country then he would impose martial law. This statement comes just a month after he ruled out any possibilities of declaring martial law.

"If I wanted to, and it will deteriorate into something really very virulent, I will declare martial law," Duterte told Reuters. He referred to the Supreme Court and Congress and said: "No one can stop me".

"My country transcends everything else, even the limitations," he added.

Late on Saturday, Duterte told the members of a chamber of commerce in the southern city of Davao that he has sworn to protect the Philippines against all threats, including drugs, which he said has affected about 4 million people.

However, last month he dismissed the idea of declaring martial law and said: "That's nonsense. We had martial law before, what happened? Did it improve our lives now? Not at all."

From the early 1970s, the country endured a decade of martial law and many people still have those memories of campaigns to restore democracy and protect human rights.

Ever since Duterte has taken over the office, he has made a brutal war on drugs a central pillar of his administration. More than 6,000 people have been killed in the anti-drug, including both police operations and unexplained killings by suspected "vigilantes" campaign since July. Nearly 1 million drug peddlers and users have been arrested or have surrendered to authorities.