MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte placed the entire country under a "state of lawlessness" on Saturday after a bomb attack in Davao City that was claimed by Abu Sayyaf extremists left scores dead and wounded.
The President's aides said the declaration simply meant that the police could call on the military to help suppress security threats.
The declaration will not amount to martial law, nor will it lead to the suspension of civil rights, they said.
The move was also not without precedent. In 2003, then President Gloria Arroyo placed Davao City under a "state of lawlessness" after successive attacks on the international airport and Sasa wharf left over two dozen people killed.
READ: Duterte declares 'state of lawlessness'
"So far, ang ineexpect muna ng mga taumbayan [What the public can expect] is more police presence in the streets and in crowded areas and also we can call on the military for help anytime," said Director General Ronald dela Rosa, chief of the Philippine National Police.
Potential targets will be "hardened," Dela Rosa said. "Ipaparamdam natin yung state of lawless violence iparamdam natin yung counter action na gagawin o preemptive action na gagawin ng kapulisan [We will make sure that counter-actions and preemptive actions by the police will be felt]," he added.
The military will "complement and supplement" the capabilities of the police, said Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza.
Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said the declaration was provided for under the 1987 Constitution.
Abella quoted Article VII, Section 18 of the charter, which read: "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."
Duterte said the declaration would be in place until he feels that everyone "is already safe" from the threat of terrorism and narcotics.
Dela Rosa likewise said the "state of lawlessness" was indefinite.
"Wala tayong timeline kung hanggang kailan matatapos. Sa nagayon target hardening efforts in place [We have no timeline as to when this will end. As of now, target hardening efforts are in place]," he said.