MANILA – The government is not preparing for a nationwide declaration of martial law following the President’s order deploying more troops to parts of the Philippines to quell the communist insurgency, a Palace spokesman said.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said on Nov. 26 the memorandum order calling for the suppression of “lawless violence” was in accordance with the “constitutional duty of the President to protect the people.”
“The President feels the need for that. Of course you have to direct your forces. You cannot do that orally. You need to reduce that into a directive,” Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.
“In other words, that’s transparency, which they are always complaining about that sometimes the government does not do.”
Under Memorandum Order No. 32, signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, the government ordered the deployment of additional forces to Bicol, Samar, and Negros provinces where a “number of sporadic acts of violence” recently occurred.
The new memorandum order “merely reiterates and reinforces” a similar directive President Duterte issued in 2016, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra earlier said pertaining, to M.O. No. 3.
Duterte issued his third M.O. in September 2016 when he declared a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao” after a blast in Davao City killed at least about a dozen people and injured several others.
Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, said Duterte could have deployed the additional forces without issuing the memorandum order.
Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares, who is eyeing a Senate seat in the 2019 polls, has scored the government’s deployment of more troops to the provinces, saying this might be used against the government’s opponents in the elections.
“The problem is that lawless violence such as the killing of thousands of drug suspects which was publicly supported by the President, and the killing of Lumad and farmers such as the ‘Sagay 9,’ and the attacks against lawyers and activists, all resulted from the state of impunity spawned by the Duterte administration,” Colmenares said in a statement.
“It is surprising that the thousands of killings all over the country for the past two years did not alarm President Duterte, but these are suddenly a cause of concern for him a few months before the 2019 election.”
Panelo said Colmenares should note that the recently issued memorandum underscores the need to respect an individual’s rights.
“I think he has not read the memorandum. It expressly says that we should respect the rights of the individual,” he said.
“Even if it has anything to do with that, the more Mr. Colmenares should be happy about that because we will be securing the area during election time.” (ABS-CBN News)