THE VOLUNTEERS Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Saturday condemned the deadly blast in Davao City and backed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to heighten security measures nationwide through the declaration of a “State of Lawless Violence,” as it called on the public to rally behind the President’s efforts to fight terrorism and criminality.
The VACC will call on the President to “suppress terrorism and illegal drugs which seem to have joined forces to stop the enforcement of laws against these lawless elements,” said the group’s founding chairman, Dante Jimenez.
“VACC will initiate a call to action for the community to support the President to suppress terrorism and illegal drugs in the country,” he added.
Also on Saturday, lawmakers condemned Friday night’s bombing and expressed support for the President’s declaration.
“The President as Commander in Chief has now called out our Armed Forces to suppress lawless violence. Our Constitution allows him to do so and taken alone he is not suspending the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus or proclaiming martial law,” Sen. Richard Gordon said in a statement.
“The Davao bombing is an act of terrorism by a known terrorist organization that must be outlawed by the full force of the law as provided in the Human Security Act of 2007 and other anti-terrorism measures,” he added.
‘Rally behind leaders’
Senate President Aquilino Pimentel 3rd also denounced what he described as a cowardly attack against civilians who were simply enjoying a night out with friends and family.
“My prayers are with the victims of the terrorist attack and their families. Justice must be served and the Senate will be supportive in achieving this justice. The police should be supported in solving this crime so that they can bring the perpetrators to justice,” Pimentel added.
Senator Gregorio Honasan called for the cooperation of all sectors, coordination of the police and military with local governments and political unity among officials, as well as vigilance.
“Let us all pray for our safety and everyone should rally under our flag and behind our national and local leaders,” Honasan said.
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito reprimanded netizens who mocked President Duterte for his claim that Davao is a safe city.
“The irony is that we Filipinos are known for our warmth and hospitality, but politics brings out the worst and insensitivity of some,” Ejercito said.
“This is not the time to mock the President but rather during tragedies like this, we should rally behind him,” he added.
Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon, while condemning “in the strongest terms the dastardly act of killing and wounding innocent civilians,” said the Davao blast was “an isolated incident.”
He said he did not see widespread violence in other parts of the country to justify calling on the Armed Forces of the Philippines to suppress lawless violence, but would submit to the judgment of President Duterte.
“The President, however, must be prudent in such declaration because of its effect on our economy, investment and business climate, especially our tourism. Under our Constitution, a declaration of lawless violence has no implication on civil liberties,” he said.
Drilon urged Malacañang to clarify the parameters of the declaration.
Human rights group Amnesty International urged President Duterte to bring justice to the victims of the Davao City blast without resorting to human rights violations.
“Resort to unlawful killings, arbitrary arrests or other human rights violations will only play into the hands of those who seek an ever-widening cycle of violence and abuse,” said Champa Patel, senior research adviser for South East Asia and the Pacific of Amnesty International.
Left-leaning human rights group Karapatan echoed this, saying: “The declaration of the state of lawlessness should not result [in]indiscriminate and warrantless arrests, torture, illegal detention and far graver abuses of people’s rights, including the rights of Moro people who have always been considered “collateral damage” in past administrations.”