Panelo: Public should not be alarmed by nationwide declaration of state of lawless violence

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) — Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Saturday that the public should not fear the nationwide declaration of the state of lawless violence as it simply places the armed forces and the police on high alert.

"We have to tell the public not to be apprehensive on the state of lawlessness because all they have to do is do their thing," he said. "In other words, wala namang mababago sa kanila [nothing new will happen to them], except that they should be vigilant. If they see anything out-of-the-ordinary, then they have to report it to the authorities."

Panelo's statement to CNN Philippines Chief Correspondent Pia Hontiveros comes after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of lawless violence early Saturday morning following an explosion in a crowded Davao City market on Friday night that killed at least 14 people and injured at least 67.

Panelo repeated the President's statement that the country is not under Martial Law and that the writ of habeas corpus — which orders authorities to present in court a victim of illegal detention — has not been suspended. He also clarified that the announcement by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana on the state of lawless violence being limited to Davao City may have been a result of a miscommunication.

Panelo said the President found it necessary to declare the state of lawless violence nationwide not just because of the Davao City incident.

"First, we have a drug menace which is all over the country," he said. "Ninety-eight barangays have been infiltrated and there have been extra-judicial killings related to drugs. Number two, criminality is still ongoing. Number three, there is terrorism. And number four, the Abu Sayyaf problem."

Panelo said Duterte declared the state of lawless violence in line with Art. 7, Sec. 18 of the 1987 Constitution, which states that "The President shall be the Commander-in-Chief of all armed forces of the Philippines and whenever it becomes necessary, he may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion."

He said the declaration will increase the presence of law enforcement all over the country and will give authorities the power to impose curfews in certain areas.

"Kung ordinaryo lang po ang pagbabantay natin sa ating mga kababayan, doble-triplehin natin upang ma-secure natin ang safety," he said. "Like for instance, kung ordinaryo isa-dalawang checkpoint lang natin ay dadamihan na natin because we don't know kung sino nakasakay diyan, mga terorista 'yan, mga drug lords 'yan, may dalang bomba 'yan. Pwede ring mag-declare ng curfew sa mga lugar na kailangan para ma-siguro natin na ligtas ang ating mga kababayan."

[Translation: If we just use ordinary efforts to safeguard our countrymen, we need to double or triple these efforts to better secure safety. For instance, if there are ordinarily just one or two checkpoints, we need to add more because don't know if the occupants of a vehicle are terrorists, drug lords or are carrying a bomb. We can also declare a curfew in places where it is needed to ensure that our countrymen are safe.]