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[STATEMENT] Declaration of State of National Emergency May Lead to Escalation of Abuses, De Facto Police State



September 6, 2016


Declaration of State of National Emergency

May Lead to Escalation of Abuses, De Facto Police State

The country is now under a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence”. President Duterte signed the declaration hours before he left to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ 28th and 29th Summits in Laos.

The actual declaration, centers on dealing with terrorism, with no definite time limit. It calls on the AFP and the PNP to suppress lawless violence in Davao and Mindanao and second, for the state security forces to suppress the spread of such lawless violence in line with “respecting fundamental constitutional rights as well as civil and political rights”.

Presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo, who last month said “the crisis due to illegal drugs could be basis for declaring Martial Law”, admitted over a radio program last Sunday, September 4, that prior to the September 2 Davao blast, the government has been planning to declare a ‘state of lawlessness or lawless violence’ citing crime, drugs, the Abu Sayyaf and terrorism as bases. He even confirmed that he prepared the draft of declaration with Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea.

Medialdea denied Panelo’s story this morning, September 6. Nonetheless, the public has been led to state of confusion over Malacanan’s own state of discordant statements over the coverage of the “state lawlessness” that President Duterte told media people when he visited the bombing site.

We, from Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN), raise concern over these recent developments especially on the “state of emergency” that is now imposed on the whole nation.

Though the government is quick to point out that this is not Martial Law, we are concerned that it’s being indefinite and nationwide could lead to abuse of power by some elements of the PNP and AFP especially now that the “state of national emergency” focuses on terrorism.

This is alarming especially in the face of continuing killings of suspected drug personalities by the PNP during “regular operations”.  Would their hit or wanted lists now include alleged terrorists to which anybody, including critics and anti-Duterte activists, could belong or be linked with?

We question the necessity of placing the whole country initially under a state of lawless violence and now, “state of national emergency” because the PNP has reported that there is dramatic reduction in crime following the aggressive implementation of the anti-drug campaign/Operation Double Barrel. Senator Cayetano has even pointed out that the drug related deaths are much higher in the Arroyo and Aquino administrations (never mind that he was comparing ten to fifteen years to two month-old Duterte Administration), weeks before armed groups like the NPA, MILF and MNLF have declared a ceasefire and even the AFP has said that the Abu Sayyaf has been reduced to a mere 400 strong force.  AFP intelligence also said that there is no basis on the alleged “links” between the Abu Sayyaf and the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria).

With such a situation that is supposed to be so ‘safe and orderly’ with the ‘successes’ of the drug campaign and peace efforts, why the need to call on the AFP and the PNP to ‘run the country under his (Duterte’s) specifications’?

Even when it was much worse than this, past administrations did not make hasty declarations, and if it did so, was clearly defined. When former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared a State of Lawless Violence following a series of bombings that took place in Davao (March 4, 2003 – Davao International Airport killing 22 people and injured 155, April 3, 2003 – the Sasa Wharf bombing that killed 16 people and injured 46, and the bombings of three mosques), it was only limited to Davao City. While the declaration of state of national emergency was not at all in relation to lawless violence; it was in the context of the failed coup at the time and was limited for 7 days only.

Malacanan and the PNP are citing the rampant summary killings, conveniently forgetting that the President and the Chief of Police have all but inspired the killings of suspected drug user-peddlers by their ‘kill language’.

We are concerned that this Proclamation No. 55 (Declaring a State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao), with no exit date, is prone to be abused. It could be used to further justify the “extraordinary measures”, such as the summary killings being undertaken now. We remember that in the US following the 9-11 incident, anti-terrorism was used as a pretext to curtail the American people’s democratic rights and railroaded the Patriot Act of 2001. (The Philippine version is the Human Security Act of 2007).

We are against terrorism and illegal drugs. But these problems cannot be resolved through furthering injustice and violation of people’s rights. Much more so, by presenting ‘extraordinary conditions’ to justify ‘extraordinary measures’.

We also call on everyone concerned to be wary and critical because this indefinite state of national emergency could further militarize police operations and could place the whole country under a de facto police state.

As we call for the speedy investigation and resolution of the Davao blast, we also call on everyone to remain vigilant as our democratic rights must always be safeguarded and respected; this is enshrined in the constitution.###

Kilusan para sa Pambansang Demokrasya (KILUSAN)


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