MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is ready to fulfill any task after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a “state of lawlessness” following the bombing attack in Davao City where 14 people were killed and 60 others were wounded Friday night.
“The AFP is prepared to undertake any task that will be issued in regard to the declaration of ‘state of lawlessness’ by the Commander-in-Chief, President Rodrigo Duterte,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo told PNA Saturday.
Earlier, Duterte 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.
Arevalo said the “continuing directive” of AFP Chief-of-Staff Gen. Ricardo Visaya to all military personnel is to be vigilant and ready for any eventuality.
He said the AFP condoles with the families of the victims of the explosion and that the Davao City-based Eastern Mindanao Command is helping its police counterparts restore normalcy by securing the area and assisting medical responders attend to the victims.
“The reports about the explosion are still sketchy. We call for sobriety and for the people to stay calm and refrain from any speculation so as not to exacerbate the situation,” he added.
At about 10 p.m. Friday, an explosion of a still undetermined origin rocked the night market on Roxas Ave. at the corner of Padre Gomez St., Davao City, killing 14 and injuring 60 others.
National Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the blast could be the handiwork of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG), which has been taking heavy losses in the ongoing military operations in Sulu for the past weeks.
“We are closely monitoring the situation. While nobody has come up to own the act, we can only assume that this was perpetrated by the terrorist group Abu Sayyaf that has suffered heavy casualties in Jolo in the past weeks,” he added.
“We have predicted this and has warned our troops accordingly but the enemy is also adept at using the democratic space granted by our Constitution to move around freely and unimpeded to sow terror,” he said.