DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo R. Duterte has placed the country under a “state of lawlessness” authorizing the police and military to conduct security searches in cars and frisking of individuals in checkpoints.
Duterte clarified the state of lawlessness is not martial law and does not involve the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.
Any punitive actions should be in the furtherance of protecting the country to stop terrorism, President Duterte told reporters after an ocular inspection of the blast site early Saturday morning.
Duterte said declaration has something to do with protecting the country and people given his intensified drugs operation, extrajudicial killings and terrorism not only in Davao but other places especially in Mindanao. He cited recent bombings in some Mindanao localities.
President Duterte also said he expects people to submit to searches and frisking in all checkpoints as he declared a lockdown of the city.
“We know that this is not a fascist state. I cannot control the movement of the citizens of the city and every Filipino has the right to enter and leave Davao. It is unfortunate we cannot stop and frisk anybody for just any reason,” he said.
“But I am declaring the entire country on alert,” he added.
Duterte disclosed there are leads to pinpoint responsibility. However, he would not confirm if the bombing is linked to his all-out war against the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG). But he said it is easy to pinpoint the ASG since the group forewarned to hold retaliatory actions in Mindanao.
The President did not discount the bombing was the handiwork of drug syndicates. He also mentioned the Maute group members who escaped from prison in Lanao.
He stressed that it would be parochial to just point to one group because terrorism is everywhere.
The number of persons who died in the explosion at Roxas night market rose to 15 as five more died in the hospital after the initial count of 10 who died on the spot at the crowded night market on Friday.
Around 69 were injured in the explosion shortly past 10 p.m Friday at the Roxas night market near Ateneo de Davao University, according to Davao City Police spokesperson Chief Inspector Catherine Dela Rey.
However, Dela Rey said they have no initial findings of the type of explosive device. She said it is only the Explosive and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) which can confirm further details of the post blast report.
Dela Rey said investigation is still ongoing.
The Roxas night market incident was the fifth bomb explosion in Davao City.
In 1991, two grenades were lobbed inside the San Pedro Cathedral.
In 2003, a bomb ripped through the arrival waiting shed of the old Davao International Airport Sasa Port on March 4 that left about 30 dead. In the same year, a bomb exploded at Sasa Wharf on April 2 with at least 40 dead.
This was followed by another blast at Ecoland Terminal leaving one person dead.
All explosions were linked to the Mindanao conflict.
The explosions happened during the term of then Mayor, now President Rodrigo R. Duterte.
Such incidents were behind his passion of ending the Mindanao conflict and bringing peace in the troubled parts of Mindanao. Lilian Mellejor/PNA/northboundasia.com