Gov’t: Deployment of more troops not a prelude to nationwide martial law

By CNN Philippines Staff

Malacañang and the police dismissed claims the issuance of Memorandum Order (MO) 32 is a prelude to a possible expansion of the martial law declaration nationwide.

Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo on Monday stressed the order to deploy more troops intends to better secure areas where killings, ambush incidents and destruction of property still exist.

“We’ve repeatedly said that if there is any intention, then that would have been declared. But there is none,” Panelo said when asked about concerns that MO 32 may lead to a martial law declaration or the suspension of writ of habeas corpus.

Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde added the order, which was issued by the Palace on November 22, intends to address internal security threats in the Bicol Region, Samar and Negros provinces.

“The state has the obligation to protect its citizens from lawlessness. Obligasyon ng gobyerno na bigyan ng proteksyon ang kanyang mamamayan. This is part of it. Nakita ng ating Presidente na medyo siguro, with the series of incidents sa mga lugar na yun, kailangan dagdagan ang ating pwersa doon. It’s nothing to do with martial law,” he said in a separate media briefing.

(Translation: It’s the government’s obligation to protect its constituents. This is part of it. The President saw perhaps that with the series of incidents in those areas, additional forces are needed there. It’s nothing to do with martial law.)

He adds external threats like ISIS was not the trigger for the issuance of MO 32, but they are not disregarding the possible threats it may pose.

As of now, the PNP has deployed a company of Special Action Force (SAF) troopers each in Samar and Bicol. In Negros, the existing SAF company deployed will be augmented.

Albayalde said there could also be movements in the regional mobile forces in the affected areas.

Not for 2019 polls

Panelo assured the public that the order won’t be used against opposition candidates.

Former Bayan Muna Partylist Representative and senatorial candidate Neri Colmenares warned President Rodrigo Duterte against using “repressive powers” against opposition candidates in the upcoming elections.

“The more Mr. Colmenares should be happy about that because you will be securing the area during election time,” Panelo said.

He also responded to Senator Panfilo Lacson’s statement that the President didn’t need to issue an MO to order the deployment of more troops to certain areas. The senator questioned why Duterte didn’t just simply order the military to send out more troops.

“Of course you have to direct your forces. You can’t just do that orally. You need to reduce that into writing so that there will be guidance to all of them where they will have to go and what acts they will perform and acts that they should not do,” Panelo said.

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