PARTIDO Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan Policy Study Group Head Jose Antonio Goitia said President Rodrigo Duterte’s recent proclamation of a state of national emergency in the wake of the Davao City night market bombing is meant to protect the people from future attacks and to bring the perpetrators to justice.
Goitia insists that the cowardly and terrorist attack of defenseless civilians in Davao City last week necessitates a swift and firm action from the President as the commander in chief of the armed forces.
“The proclamation merely asserts President Duterte’s full command of the security forces, both the military and the police, to suppress violent threats in Mindanao and prevent its escalation and spread in other parts of the country,” said Goitia, who also heads the PDP Laban Membership Committee-National Capital Region Council.
At the same time, he stressed the proclamation is not a declaration of martial law since it “clearly stated that the proclamation is to be exercised with due regard to civil and political liberties.”
Goitia explained that as a lawyer and former prosecutor, Duterte knows the bounds of his duty and power and he means to exercise it responsibly with public safety as priority, adding that even law experts have opined that there is nothing unconstitutional in the declaration.
Moreover, Goitia noted that the Arroyo and Estrada administrations have used the power over the military and deployed them to secure public safety after terrorist attacks in 2000 and 2003.
But unlike Arroyo, Duterte exercised prudence by not curtailing any civil and political liberties in carrying out his duty as commander in chief in the face of terrorist threats. As a man of law, he knows that the 1987 Constitution, which as a reaction to the authoritarian regime that preceded its creation, has enough safeguards against the declaration of martial law.
“Those who are raising the martial law bogey are either ignorant of these safeguards or falling for the fear-mongering trap of the terrorist themselves,” Goitia said.
“Martial law alarmist are sowing more confusion and are more concerned with lambasting the President. Instead of supporting actions to prevent further attacks and bringing the perpetrators to justice, they are distracting the administration in its performance of its duty to secure the public and hunt down the terrorists.”
“Discrediting President Duterte and his administration in the face of terrorist threat is not only insensitive and opportunistic, it is also indirectly tantamount to abetting the goal of the terrorists to sow fear and terror and create divisiveness among the people,” added Goitia.
“I will not be surprised if anti-Duterte forces will further stoke the fires hysteria to bring down the President as he persevere to crush the threat of violence and criminality. Amidst such threats, the people should all the more be vigilant.”
PDP-Laban is the political party that carried Pres. Duterte to election victory.