MANILA – Former president and now Pampanga representative Gloria Arroyo on Monday threw her support behind President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of ''state of lawlessness'' in the wake of the Davao City blast last Friday. Arroyo said Duterte is 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 would not abuse their authority, amid concerns that the situation will be used as an excuse to violate human rights. ''I did not experience them 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 could handle them he can handle them even better," Arroyo added. 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. 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 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.