‘State of lawlessness’ is legal and constitutional – justice secretary

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of a “state of lawlessness” is legal and constitutional, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II said Saturday.

“The power of the President to declare a state of lawlessness is legally justified under his constitutional authority to faithfully execute the laws, protect the people from lawless and criminal elements, not to mention the rampant killings, and the ISIS threat to commit terrorism,” Aguirre told PNA.

“It is not martial law because the military is not being called to replace civilian authority. Civil liberties are not impaired. In other words, it is just a declaration of a state or condition of lawlessness, nothing more,” he explained.

Aguirre noted that the state of lawlessness can be validated by the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) and the Philippine National Police (PNP), given the rampant killings, terrorist acts, the entry of Islamic State elements and the seizure of smuggled m-16 rifle parts.

He said that because of this declaration, the military and the police can legally set up checkpoints.

President Duterte declared a nationwide state of lawlessness following Friday night’s bomb attack in Davao City that claimed 14 lives and injured 71 people.

He declared the “state of lawlessness” in Davao City but expanded it to cover the entire country, authorizing the police and military to conduct security searches in cars and frisk individuals at checkpoints.

Duterte clarified that the “state of lawlessness” is not martial law and does not involve the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus. Christopher Lloyd Caliwan/PNA/northboundasia.com