PUBLIC URGED TO CARRY ON WITH NORMAL LIFE
Malacañang on Sunday urged the public to carry on with normal life despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a “State of Lawless Violence,” but said people should be prepared for acts of terrorism following Friday’s deadly blast in Davao City.
“Let’s continue with our lives. Do not be afraid but be alert. Let’s practice our civic responsibilities as responsible citizens to ensure our country moves forward progressively,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said over state-run radio station DZRB.
Andanar appealed for public help as the government fights “faceless” terrorists, saying “the best way is to get our act together as government and as one people.”
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said an executive order formalizing the President’s declaration would be issued today.
But the declaration, he clarified, did not mean people should restrict their activities.
“The only difference is we will be alert. We can do our normal activities everyday. The goal is to keep everyone safe,” Panelo said over radio station DZBB.
Panelo claimed there were terror threats in major cities across the country, including those in Metro Manila, that warranted a nationwide declaration of the State of Lawless Violence.
“There are explosion threats in major cities. Terrorism is not only in Davao. And drug personalities are all over the land … the same with criminality. So this should be nationwide because the problems are nationwide,” Panelo stressed.
Still, the public should expect a curfew, especially for minors, as well as more checkpoints.
“It’s up to the security forces to implement the curfew. We need curfew to keep the youth safe, so don’t be surprised with additional checkpoints,” Panelo said.
“If need be, the President will use the military to suppress violence in our country,” he added.
The Palace also shrugged off the travel advisories issued by the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia that urged their respective citizens to take safety measures and avoid crowded areas, following the Davao explosion.
“Well, that usually happens, so there’s nothing new about that. It’s their duty to advise their citizens who are traveling to be careful,” Andanar said.
The Davao blast forced President Duterte to cancel his Saturday trip to Brunei. But he will proceed with his trips to Vientiane, Laos for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summits, and a visit to Indonesia.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, Director General Ronald “Bato” de la Rosa told reporters in Camp Crame on Sunday that Duterte was angry over the blast, but did not castigate security forces during their meeting in Davao City.
“There was no such mood in our long conversation,” de la Rosa said.
De la Rosa said the bloody incident proved emotionally draining with the loss of over a dozen lives and injuries to scores of others.
“But that doesn’t mean we surrender. There’s a time for them, a time for us. Luck will not be always on their side,” he said in Filipino.
For Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman, an opposition stalwart, the declaration of a State of Lawless Violence was legally unnecessary and alarming because the President can still summon the Armed Forces to suppress lawless violence in any part of the country, cause the installation of police blockages and checkpoints without unwarranted searches, as well as impose limited and reasonable curfew hours, without such declaration.
“This [declaration]unduly alarms the people of the President’s emerging exercise of extraordinary emergency powers like the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus and declaration of martial law. Abuses of civil, political and human rights could happen in its implementation,” Lagman said in a statement.
“The nationwide coverage of the declaration projects a grim scenario of countrywide lawlessness, where in fact the overwhelming majority of the areas in the country are peaceful,” Lagman added.
WITH ANTHONY VARGAS