MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared Saturday “state of
lawlessness” in southern island of Mindanao following a deadly attack allegedly
perpetrated by the Abu Sayyaf Group in Davao City, China’s Xinhua news agency
In an interview with reporters, Duterte said his declaration of state of
lawlessness “would require nationwide, well-coordinated efforts of the military
and the police.”
He clarified that it is not a declaration of martial law.
“I have this duty to protect the country. I have this duty to keep intact
the integrity of the nation,” the president said.
Death toll from the explosion reached 14, while over 70 were injured.
In a separate statement, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the
president’s declaration of a state of lawlessness is rooted in Article VII
Section 18 of the Constitution.
The declaration is limited such that he can only call out the armed forces
to suppress the lawless violence, Abella said, adding that there was no
suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
“It is a different case from the existence of invasion or rebellion. Only if
there is invasion or rebellion, and when public safety requires it, can he
suspend the writ of habeas corpus or declare martial law,” he explained.
According to Interior and Local Government Secretary Mike Sueno, the Abu
Sayyaf Group has claimed responsibility for the attack at the Davao night market
late Friday night.
Duterte came from Davao City and his daughter and son are the mayor and
vice-mayor, respectively, of the city.
Prior to the attack, the military has been conducting intensified operation
against the bandits in southern province of Sulu after they beheaded a Filipino
Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he has directed all commands of the
Armed Forces of the Philippines “to be on high alert especially in urban centres
for possible other terroristic act attempts by this group.”
The Eastern Command in Davao city has been directed to assist the Philippine
National Police in maintaining peace and order in Davao City and in the
apprehension of the perpetrators, he said.
“They will also aid in gathering intelligence information and in conducting
investigations to get to the bottom of this unfortunate incident,” he added.