It wasn’t the Davao blast on Friday night last week that prodded President Rodrigo Duterte to declare a state of lawlessness in the country. In fact, the declaration draft was already in the making before the Davao blast happened. This was what presidential legal counsel Chief Salvador Panelo insisted on Sunday, September 4.
“Hindi na-trigger [ng pagsabog sa Davao ang pagdedeklara ng State of Lawlessness]. Actually, nasa planning stage na ‘yan (The Davao blast did not trigger the declaration of “state of lawlessness.” Actually, it was already in the planning stage [then]),” Panelo disclosed in a radio interview with dzBB.
“In fact, nagda-draft na nga kami ng proclamation [para sa State of Lawlessness bago pa ang pagsabog sa Davao] (In fact, we were already drafting a proclamation [for a State of lawlessness before the bombing in Davao]),” Panelo added.
According to Panelo, drafts of the proclamation were prepared by him and Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea before the Davao bombing happened. The final document, the proclamation itself, was signed on Monday, September 5, just before Duterte boarded his plane to Laos for the ASEAN meet.
Meanwhile, recent findings showed that the improvised explosive device used in the Davao blast was derived from a 60-mm mortar. The improvised detonating device was a cellphone, which investigators recovered from the scene. The blast killed 14 people and left at least 60 others wounded.
According to Panelo, four things led to the lawlessness declaration—developments in the anti-illegal drug campaign, criminality, terrorism and the behavior of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). And these problems were not just confined to Davao City but in fact affecting the entire country.
“Yung cinite kong mga problema ay nationwide din (The problems I cited are also happening nationwide),” Panelo explained.
“Yung terorismo, hindi lang ‘yan nakatutok sa Davao. Ang pagbabantang ginagawa nila ay dito sa Metro Manila, sa lahat ng malalaking siyudad, binabantaan nila na papasabugin tayo. Kaya bakit mo ilo-localized ang pagdedeklara mo [ng state of lawlessness],” Panelo said.
(Terrorism—it’s not just focused on Davao. They make threats against Metro Manila, against all the major cities. They threaten to blow us all up. So, why would you localize your declaration?).
“Yung drug men are all over the land, ganun din ang kriminalidad so talagang dapat nationwide ([Illegal] drug men are all over the land. So is criminality, so it should really be nationwide),” Panelo added.
Despite all this, Panelo assured the public that martial law remained a remote possibility and there would no suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Though the Constitution does not provide for curfew impositions in a declaration of state of lawlessness, Panelo hinted it may be considered on a case-to-case basis. Checkpoints will be placed in some areas.
“Ito ay upang magamit niya (Duterte) ang Sandatahang Lakas at magkaroon ng mas mahigpit na pagpapatupad (This is so he [the president] could utilize the armed forces [more effectively] and for stricter implementation) …Walang nagbago (Nothing has changed), we can do our thing, our normal activities every day,” Panelo assured the public.