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Declaration was considered before Davao explosion

To better fight illegal drugs and crimes, President Duterte had considered placing the country under a state of lawlessness even before the deadly Davao City explosion last Friday.

Chief presidential legal counsel Salvador Panelo revealed that they were already preparing a proclamation on such declaration due to the security problems confronting the country.

Among these problems confronting the Duterte government, Panelo said in a radio interview, are the illegal drug trade, criminality, terrorism, and the threat of the Abu Sayyaf Group.

“That was not the trigger,” Panelo said in Filipino about the Davao incident. “Actually, it was already in the planning stage. It was already being planned. In fact, we were drafting the proclamation. We had to provide justification for the proclamation. President Duterte was considering the enormity of the problems then,” he said.

“So when the explosion happened, it was really time to declare it. We must suppress the threat,” he added.

The President earlier declared a state of lawlessness in the country following the Davao blast that left 15 people dead. Under the declaration, the President is authorized to call out the military to suppress or present terror and violence in the country.

As of press time, the Palace has not yet issued the written proclamation on the President’s directive.

Panelo said the President acknowledged that the police force could not address the country’s security problems alone.

Duterte knew it was prudent to tap the military to augment the police force, he added.

Panelo also explained that a state of lawlessness was declared nationwide because the problems affect the entire country.

He said 98 percent of barangays are infiltrated with illegal drugs with the drug users becoming “potential killers.”

He added that crimes continue while terrorists try to sow fear and chaos in the country. (Genalyn D. Kabiling)