Duterte vows full might of law vs Davao attackers
(Update, initial break was published at 7:10 a.m. of September 3, 2016) DAVAO CITY – President Rodrigo Duterte, who was in the city duringFriday night’s blast that killed 14 people and wounded 67 others, vowed on Saturday that he will enforce the full might of the government in response to attack.
He also announced that a state of lawlessness is now effect in Mindanao starting Saturday dawn.
“I have this duty to protect this country. So I am declaring now a state of lawlessness,” Duterte said after visiting the blast site on Roxas Ave.
But Duterte quickly explained that his was not a declaration of martial law.
“This is not martial law. This is not about the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus,” Duterte clarified.
He said under the state of lawlessness, state security forces now have more power to go after threat groups in the country.
There will be more checkpoints and security searches on vehicles but that no curfew will be implemented.
Duterte said under the state of lawlessness, security forces would further the government’s campaign to end terrorism.
“They can do what they really need to do until such time that I can say it is safe,” Duterte said.
Presidential Adviser to the Peace Process Jesus Dureza asserted that the “state of lawlessness under the constitutional provision is separate and apart from the powers to declare martial law or suspend the writ of habeas corpus.”
Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, the Southern Mindanao police director, said under the state of lawlessness, security was tighter that it can actually inconvenience the public.
At the Task Force Davao checkpoint in Sirawan in Toril district, security forces now open private cars to check on the inside. Before the explosion, they were content to just peek from open windows.
The tighter security checks also created a monstrous traffic jam on Saturday as soldiers did not only check vehicles entering the city but those going out as well.
“We are calling on the people to be more patient because this is for all our benefit. Inconvenience was expected but this is an extra ordinary circumstances that require tighter action,” Gaerlan said.
He also called on the public to be more alert and mindful of others “and report any suspicious movement or unattended baggage.”
“The more eyes, the more ears, the better,” Gaerlan said, who admitted that all 7700 personnel assigned in Southern Mindanao had been mobilized to ensure that the night market attack would not be repeated.
Reacting to observations that the attack demolished Duterte’s bragging about safety in the city, Gaerlan said security forces could not probably “cover every inch of the city.”
“You know, whether a place is safe or not is relative to who is making the statement. I will not argue with whoever said it was not safe here until I have the facts, scientific data,” Gaerlan said.
But he admitted that “there is no 100 percent protection as far as a determined attacker or saboteur is concerned.”
“Public vigilance would help, let us protect ourselves, our families, our neighbors. Let’s help one another,” Gaerlan said.
As to the situation in the city after the explosion, Gaerlan said it was still “a little tense.”
“But we would like to reassure the people that the police were there, working for their safety. We would like to let the people see we are there and securing them,” Gaerlan said, adding that policemen were now deployed on the streets.
Since the blast was purely a police matter, President Duterte said: “let the police handle the investigation.”
He also said he cannot possibly control the movement of the people and that the declaration of state of lawlessness was to address terrorist attacks.
“All the commanders are here. At yung mga intelligence head natin, nandito. This is not a case of failure of intelligence. We have been warned. Everyone is a suspect. Ang mahalaga alam natin kung sino ang nananakot. We have leads but we won’t reveal it for now,” he said.
“Because of the threats against me and the people in government, I have to calibrate my moves very carefully. As humanly as possible, we will protect everybody. Just keep calm. The government is with you.These are extraordinary times and I suppose I am allowed to authorize security forces to do searches. There will be a lockdown of the city. There will be more checkpoints,” Duterte added.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said despite the incident, she has decided to reopen the night market.
She said the night market will resume on Saturday evening and urged vendors who might still want to sell their goods to continue their trade at the site.
She however reiterated her call to the public for vigilance and report to authorities any suspicious messages or activities, regardless of its significance.
“Anything is significant to us,” the mayor said.
Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, the Southern Mindanao police director, said the police have suggested that the night market be cordoned so that it would be easy for authorities to check on those entering it.
In Cagayan de Oro City, the Northern Mindanao police declared full alert in the wake of the bomb attack in Davao.
Chief Supt. Noel Constantino, the Northern Mindanao police chief, said the “public is advised to remain calm but extra vigilant for suspicious persons and packages.”
“But rest assured that the police and armed forces authorities are taking various measures to tighten security and ensure public safety within the region,” Constantino said in a statement.
He said the police have also intensified its intelligence monitoring to prevent a similar attack in any area of the region.
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