Duterte declares 'state of lawlessness'

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 03 2016 05:42 AM | Updated as of Sep 03 2016 01:45 PM

Duterte: This is not martial law

DAVAO (1st UPDATE)- President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday morning declared a "state of lawless violence" in the Philippines following an explosion in Davao City that claimed the lives of 14 people and left more than 60 others injured.

Duterte, in an interview with journalists at the blast site at a popular night market in Roxas Avenue, said soldiers and police will be authorized to conduct searches in accordance with the "orchestration of the national government."

"I may invite uniformed personnel to run the country according to my specifications," Duterte said.

"Any punitive action that will be taken by the security forces will be in a bid to stop terrorism," he added.

But the 71-year old firebrand said his declaration is different from martial law as there will be "no curfews" and "no suspension of the writ of habeas corpus."

The president said the national policy will be in place until he feels that the country "is already safe" from the threat of terrorism and narcotics.

"I am including drugs because of the many killings unfairly attributed to the police," he said.

"I have this duty to protect the country. I have this duty to keep intact the integrity of our nation."

The "state of lawless violence" was last declared in 2003, also after a bombing in Davao City.

READ: Davao blast death toll rises to 14; 67 others hurt

Duterte's declaration of a "state of lawless violence" is applicable to the whole country, Palace officials said.

In a statement, Special Assistant to the President Bong Go said that the state of lawless violence applies to the whole country, contrary to an earlier declaration that it only covered Mindanao.

The President's declaration, said Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, is rooted in Article VII, Section 18 of the Philippine Constitution.

"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," Abella quoted the Constitution.

"The declaration is limited such that he can only call out the armed forces to suppress the lawless violence," he added.

He clarified that Duterte's order is not a declaration of martial law, as that can only be declared if there is invasion or rebellion, when public safety requires it. The writ of habeas corpus has not been suspended, he reassured.

The writ of habeas corpus is an order from the judiciary for a person, group, or agency to deliver an imprisoned individual to the court, in effect "producing a body."

Abella also asked Filipinos to "remain alert to the activities of those who wish to create chaos."

"It takes a courageous and united people who complain less and do more to build the nation we dream of and deserve," he said.