Arroyo: Duterte much stronger leader than I am

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 05 2016 12:30 PM | Updated as of Sep 05 2016 02:55 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) – Former President and now Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo on Monday threw her support behind President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of a ''state of lawlessness'' in the wake of the Davao City blast last Friday.

Arroyo said Duterte was in the best position to declare a state of lawlessness to crush any threat to the country's peace and order.

She believes that law enforcers will not abuse their authority, amid concerns that the situation may be used as an excuse to violate political and human rights.

''I did not experience them [law enforcers] being abusive, and I don’t think they will be abusive now,'' Arroyo said in a press briefing.

''President Duterte is a much stronger leader than I am so if I could handle them, he can handle them even better," Arroyo added.

Arroyo said, Duterte no longer needs her help as the latter has had enough experience, having served as her adviser on peace and order when she was chief executive.

"President Duterte knows all the lessons because he has been helping me a lot during my time. He was my adviser on peace and order, especially on drugs and kidnapping. He knows my experience. He knows all the lessons," she said.

The President's aides said the declaration simply means that the military--not just the police--can help suppress lawless violence.

The declaration will not amount to martial law, nor will it lead to the suspension of civil rights, they said.

In 2003, 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.

Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella earlier said the declaration was provided for under the 1987 Constitution.

Abella quoted Article VII, Section 18 of the charter, which reads: "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.