Lawmakers support Duterte’s declaration of “state of lawlessness,’ but some show reservations

The PNP and AFP cannot run the country according to the chief executive’s wishes. This was Senator Risa Hontivero’s reaction to President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement about how he was “inviting now the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the military, and the police to run the country in accordance with [his] specifications.”

The senator issued her reaction moments after the bombing occurred in Davao City on Friday, September 02.  “Contrary to the President’s instructions, they cannot, in any way and in any legal and constitutional sense, run the country,” she said.

To the senator, declaring a “state of lawlessness” is nothing more than telling the public the present peace and order situation in the country in general. It “should be merely an act declaring a status or condition of public moment or interest,” she insisted.

Duterte declared a “state of lawlessness” or “state of lawless violence” following a spate of terror activities by the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG).

The most recent act of terror was the bombing of the Roxas Night market on Friday night where 14 were killed and 67 were wounded and which the ASG claimed to have been their ally’s move.


In a televised interview, the president said that the “state of lawlessness” was “not (the same as) martial law but it would require nationwide, well-coordinated efforts of the military and the police.”

The president added, “I have this duty to protect the country. I have this duty to keep intact the integrity of the nation.”

Senator Leila De Lima, on the other hand, sounded calm with her words when she urged the public merely to be vigilant about the president’s declaration. She was referring to possible abuses by the police and military under such directive from the president. However, she saw Duterte’s moves as a presidential prerogative.

“While it is for the President to decide what powers are needed to respond to the current situation, it is also for the people to be vigilant that the government response to the crisis does not result in the restriction of their civil liberties and political rights,” De Lima said on Sunday.

Though known as among Duterte’s outspoken critics, De Lima seemed reserved about her thoughts on the development and even denounced the Davao bombings as a clear act of terrorism.

“I strongly condemn the bombing at the Davao City night market. This is clearly the act of terrorists, individuals without conscience. Violence is the only language that they know, especially the kind that victimizes innocent civilians and non-combatants,” the senator said.

House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez, a known ally of the president, aired his full support for Duterte’s declaration.

“This will give our law enforcers and the military the means to carry out deterrent measures not just against further acts of terror but also against other forms of criminality, including trafficking in illegal drugs,” he added.

Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, another known Duterte critic, however, expressed how the declaration is not necessary. “(It) is not warranted at this time,” he said. Instead, the police should just zero in on intelligence work on the matter to prevent a similar occurrence in the future, he added.

Senate President Pro-Tempore Franklin Drilon condemned the bombings but said the peace and order situation in the country does not warrant the declaration. He reminded how the president should be “prudent in such declaration because of its effect on our economy, investment and business climate, especially our tourism.” But he also said that, “Under our Constitution, a declaration of lawless violence has no implication on civil liberties.”

Senate President Koko Pimentel said the state of lawless violence merely means the president will be tapping the military to “prevent or suppress what he perceives to be lawless ones.” He also said that even if it got to the point of declaring martial law, the Constitution “is not suspended,” our bill of rights will remain intact, and “civil courts should continue to function.”

Sources: (,,


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