Duterte augments state forces on major streets

FOLLOWING the proclamation of state of national emergency to suppress lawless violence nationwide, President Rodrigo Duterte sought that the government forces be immediately deployed on major streets and thoroughfares, as well as near crowded places.

This was the President's call, according to the Memorandum Order 3 released by Malacañang, in order to prevent violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.

Section 1 of the memorandum mandates the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) to have coordination to ensure the immediate deployment of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP).

"To the extent possible, the DND and the DILG shall deploy AFP and PNP personnel on major streets and thoroughfares, as well as near crowded places such as malls and train stations, in order to increase troop and military visibility for deterrence and quick-response purposes, without causing undue alarm to the general public," the memorandum read.

In the implementation of the memorandum, the President stressed that the AFP and the PNP should respect the constitutional rights of every individual at all times.

"No civil of political rights are suspended during the existence of a state of lawless violence," he said in the memorandum.

Duterte, however, noted that warrantless arrests may take effect if a person has committed an offense in the presence of the arresting officer; an offense has just been committed; the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped; and when the person to be arrested has voluntarily waived his right against warrantless arrest.

Also, warrantless searches and seizures are possible if the person to be searched has consented or voluntarily waived his right against warrantless search and seizure, and if it is contemporaneous to the arrest and within a permissible area of search.

Warrantless searches and seizures also take effect in searching vessels and aircraft for violation of immigration and customs laws, and automobiles at borders or “constructive” borders for violation of immigration or smuggling laws.

The state forces may also have warrantless searches and seizures if the objects and effects to be seized are in plain view; during the stop-and-frisk situations; and if it arises from exigent and emergency circumstances.

In stop-and-frisk situations, the President said that search shall be limited to light patting on the outer garments of the subject individual to detect the possession of weapons or similar effects.

Presidential Communications Office assistant secretary for legal affairs Ana Marie Banaag explained that it could be performed if the government forces have suspicion that a person to undergo stop-and-frisk is acting strange.

“[Stop-and-frisk situation] is not necessarily [random]. This is an ordinary power. It’s more of police visibility. So it’s just not like they’re walking and then they feel like they will ask you to know, stop-frisk. It’s not something like that,” she said.

“It’s when you see something different, if you have suspicion,” Banaag added.

In the case of police and military checkpoints, the memorandum provides that inspection “shall be limited to a request to roll down vehicle windows, search for things in plain view only, and production of identification and vehicle registration papers.”

“No further intrusive actions shall be taken, such as demanding the opening of trunks or lids or asking person(s) on board to step out, unless the subject individual consents or agrees thereto,” it added.

Banaag said there would be no “extraordinary” checkpoints and urged the public to merely cooperate with the AFP and the PNP who are conducting inspection.

“So if the question is: Do we expect every now and then that there are checkpoints? There will be checkpoints everywhere and we just have to advise our kababayan to cooperate. That’s it. It’s not really something that is extraordinary,” Banaag said.

Duterte said that he may grant budgetary funds to government forces, in order for them to intensify their local and transnational intelligence operations against individuals or groups suspected of or responsible for committing senseless acts in the country.

Any AFP or PNP personnel found violating any of the foregoing constitutional rights shall be held administratively and civilly or criminally liable, the memorandum said.

The memorandum, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, provides guidelines that have to be observed during the subsistence of a state of lawless violence in the country.

On Tuesday, the Palace released a copy of Proclamation 55, declaring a state of national emergency in the entire country, following the bombing in a night market in Davao City last week. (Sunnex)
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