PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has signed the proclamation declaring a state of lawless violence in the country, Malacanang bared yesterday.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea who is the government caretaker in the absence of the President, told Palace reporters yesterday that Duterte signed the one-page proclamation shortly before leaving for the ASEAN summit. The signed copy will be released to the media today, Tuesday.
Medialdea clarified that the spate of terror attacks like kidnappings, beheadings and the Davao night market bombing prodded Duterte to issue the proclamation.
Medialdea stressed the declaration is not tantamount to martial law and that no curfew is being imposed.
There is no timeline for its implementation but the proclamation will stay until Duterte feels order and safety have been restored, Medialdea added.
Medialdea said the first version of the proclamation included the provision on drugs as one of the reasons for the proclamation but this was scrapped.
Medialdea reiterated terrorism is the main reason for the proclamation and not the spate of drug related incidents.
The proclamation is unnumbered yet with the title, “Proclaiming a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.”
It states that it is commanding the AFP and the PNP to undertake measures permitted by the Constitution and laws to suppress all forms of lawlessness in Mindanao, and prevent lawless violence from spreading, escalating in the country with due regard to the fundamental and civil, political rights and shall remain in force until lifted by the President..
The President signed the document before flying to Vientiane, Laos, for the 49th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Leaders Summit, where he will accept the chairmanship of the regional grouping for 2017.
Also yesterday, Chief Public Attorney Persida Rueda-Acosta stressed that civil liberties are not suspended, but said the Public Attorney’s Office (PAO) would be on “red alert” and provide free legal assistance to anyone who will be arrested without the assistance of a lawyer.
Acosta emphasized that Duterte was within the “calling out powers” of the President as commander in chief of the Armed Forces.
“The President has the discretion and it is within his inherent powers. It has factual basis since there are persons not following the law. It is lawlessness,” the PAO head said.
She also said that after the declaration of the State of Lawless Violence, more police and soldiers could be deployed by the government.
The move was also not without precedent. In 2003, then President Gloria Arroyo placed Davao City under a “state of lawlessness” after successive attacks on the international airport and Sasa wharf left over two dozen people killed.(emontano)