Friday, April 26, 2019

Government clarifies state of lawlessness order

(UPDATED) -- Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza clarified Wednesday morning that martial law is not in effect in relation to President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of state of lawlessness earlier dawn.

Dureza said "state of lawlessness merely calls out the military or the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to do law enforcement operations normally done by the Philippine National Police (PNP)."

He said the President has not suspended the writ of habeas corpus or martial law.

"State of lawlessness under the constitutional provision is separate and apart from the powers to declare martial law or suspend habeas corpus," Dureza said.

The declaration, he added, was issued primarily "to suppress lawless violence.

"It is to complement and supplement the capability of the PNP," the presidential peace adviser said.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella has also issued a clarification that the declaration is rooted in Article VII, Section 18 of the Constitution, which reads: "Section 18. The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion."

He said it merely called out the military to "suppress the lawless violence," which is different from "invasion or rebellion."

"Only if there is invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires it, can he suspend the writ of habeas corpus or declare martial law," Abella added.

Davao City Councilor Diosdado Mahipus, in a local radio interview, said the President's declaration is only meant to "harness the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) ability to quelch whatever is happening now."

Mahipus, a lawyer, said he believes Duterte made the declaration to allow the military to gain access to the city and conduct searches.

"Di man gud mahimo nga mosulod ang mga Army sa Davao City if there is no declaration of state of lawlessness because their mandate is principally to protect external aggression," the city legislator said. "So their presence will not be questioned. That is how I see this (declaration)," he added.

What happened in Davao is that an external threat has also gained access to the city. Unconfirmed reports said the Abu Sayyaf Group is claiming the attack that has already left 14 people dead and more than 60 injured. With this, Mahipus said the Abu Sayyaf is a declared threat to the country.


Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has expressed her condolences to the families of the victims who died Friday night.

"I would like to express my deepest condolences to the families of those who died Friday night.

I would also like to reassure all of them, as well as the families of those who are injured that the City Government of Davao will assist in all their needs for hospitalization, burial, funeral and day to day expenses," she said.

She also expressed apology for what happened and reminded "other officials to stay within the bounds of their official duties according to their position. Please leave me in peace to do my job and I'll leave you to focus on your own work."

Duterte-Carpio also called on Davao residents to exercise vigilance and to report to police any suspicious activity "no matter how insignificant it may seem."

"We will not be terrorized by this heinous crime and I call on all Dabawenyos to unite and let us help each other rise from this senseless incident," she said.

A memorial is scheduled at 4 p.m. Saturday at the explosion site.

The progressive group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) has expressed its support to the call.

Department of National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has also expressed his sympathy to those who died.

Lorenzana has identified the Abu Sayyaf who may be behind the attack.

"While nobody has come up to own the act we can only assume that this was perpetrated by the terrorist group Abu Sayaff that has suffered heavy casualties in Jolo in the past weeks. We have predicted this and has warned our troops accordingly but the enemy is also adept at using the democratic space granted by our Constitution to move around freely and unimpeded to sow terror," he said.

The AFP is already on hightened alert especially in urban centers.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said the bomb appeared to have been made from a mortar round and doctors reported many of the victims had shrapnel wounds.

Despite the emergency, Duterte said he would proceed with a trip to Brunei, Laos and Indonesia starting on Sunday, September 4. At an Asian summit in the Laotian capital of Vientiane, Duterte said in jest that most of the leaders he would meet, including President Barack Obama and Russian leader Vladimir Putin, have had a taste of terrorist attacks.

Witnesses initially gave conflicting accounts, according to police, with some saying that a cooking gas tank exploded at a massage section and food stalls of the night market while others suggested it may have been some kind of an explosive.

Police immediately set up more checkpoints in key roads leading to the city. Police forces in the capital also went on full alert at midnight.

TV footage showed bodies lay scattered amid plastic chairs strewn about at the scene of the blast moments after the blast, which was heard several blocks away. Ambulance vans drove to and from the area.

US National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that local authorities in the Philippines continue to investigate the cause of the explosion, and the United States stands ready to provide assistance to the investigation.

Obama will have an opportunity to offer his personal condolences to Duterte when the two leaders plan to meet on the sidelines of the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders with some Western leaders in Laos next week, Price said. (VLA/Sunnex with reports from AP)
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