PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte has ruled out declaring martial law in Negros Oriental for now despite the series of killings by suspected communist rebels, Malacañang said on Tuesday.
Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo said Duterte believed there was no actual rebellion in Negros Island that would warrant for the declaration of martial law in the area.
“Martial law will only be imposed in accordance with the Constitution. Just like in Negros, I asked him last night about Negros, ang sinabi niya (and he said), ‘You and I are lawyers, we know that we cannot just impose martial law unless the requirement is there,’” Panelo said during a press briefing.
“In the Constitution, there has to be rebellion. For now, it’s unbridled killing that is still happening there,” he added.
Between July 23 and 28, 17 people were killed in Negros Oriental, following the death of four policemen in Ayungon town by alleged members of the New People’s Army.
But Duterte can still invoke other emergency powers in the charter, such as deploying more military troops to Negros, Panelo said.
Negros Island, which is composed of Negros Oriental and Negros Occidental provinces, is already covered by Memorandum Order 32. which mandates the deployment of additional soldiers and policemen to suppress lawless violence.
“Right now, he’s not done that (declaring martial law). He’s only called 300 PNP (Philippine National Police) strike force ba yun or SWAT. ‘Yan pa lang ang ginawa niya (that’s the only thing he did),” he said, referring to the PNP’s Special Action Forces.
On Monday, PNP chief Gen. Oscar Albayalde deployed 300 additional elite policemen to help stop the bloodshed in the Negros provinces.
“I am glad to announce that peace and order in Negros Oriental remains normal,” he said on Tuesday in a press briefing.
Albayalde said the Police Regional Office 7 (PRO7) is now in charge of the security in the province saying that the series of killings in the province was only created to alarm the residents.
“As I’ve said wala namang dapat ikaalarma roon yung mga tao roon, they live normal lives, wala namang nagbago roon, As I’ve said, the people there shouldn’t be alarmed, they live normal lives, nothing has changed there,” he said.
Operation to nab the suspects of the killing of four cops in Ayungon is continuing, Albayalde confirmed.
According to PRO-7, eight supects have been arrested in connection with the killing of the four policemen.
The latest were Rico Oracoy and Lito Cadusale. They were arrested on Monday at a checkpoint, possessing two .38 caliber revolvers, a rifle grenade, and explosive devices.
The other three, who confessed to the crime, Edmar Amaro, Jojo Ogatis and Victoriano Bangala Anadon Jr. were caught in the past few days. According to a spokesman, they were also identified by the witnesses as perpetrators of the killing.
But the three suspects arrested in Badian, Cebu on August 31, named Danny Harold Tancinco, Ronnie Herebias and Marlon Basalo have yet to admit to the murder.
WITH DARWIN PESCO