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Palace orders deployment of more troops to Samar, Negros, Bicol

Malacañang has ordered the deployment of more troops to some parts of the country due to “a number of sporadic acts of violence” that have occurred there recently, a Palace document released on Friday showed.

Signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Thursday, Memorandum Order 32 directed the deployment of additional soldiers and policemen to suppress “lawless violence and acts of terror” in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the Bicol region and “prevent  such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.”

The memorandum, which Medialdea issued following an order by President Rodrigo Duterte, also reinforced the guidelines under the state of national emergency which the chief executive declared in September 2016 following the deadly Davao City bombing on the ground of lawless violence.

“[T]here is a need to reinforce the directive of the President in order to prevent further loss of innocent lives and destruction of property and bring the country back to a state of normalcy as quick as possible,” it said.

The Palace ordered the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Department of Justice (DOJ), in  coordination with other law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community, to intensify their local and transnational intelligence operations against individuals or groups suspected of, or responsible for, committing or conspiring to commit lawless violence in the country.

Malacañang also called for a “prompt investigation and prosecution” of all individuals or groups apprehended for committing or conspiring to commit acts of lawless violence and enjoined all local government units to give their “full support and cooperation.”

The memorandum said that no civil or political rights are suspended during the existence of a state of national emergency on account of lawless violence.

“In particular, the AFP and PNP are enjoined to observe existing rules and jurisprudence in instances that may justify the implementation of warrantless arrests, searches and seizures, as well as ensure compliance with guidelines for police/military checkpoints and stop-and-frisk situation,” the memorandum stated.

“Any AFP or PNP personnel found violating any of the foregoing constitutional rights shall be held administratively, civilly or criminally liable therefore.”

The memorandum shall take effect immediately.

The release of the memorandum came a day after Duterte announced that there will be a minor reorganization in the military, citing the death of soldiers in the government’s campaign against lawless elements.

“The commanders would explain it to you. And I decided last night [Wednesday night] na there has to be some changes. I am not comfortable anymore of the setup because it has caused a lot of my soldiers’ lives,” Duterte said in a speech during the 35th Army Reserve Command founding anniversary at Camp General Mariano Riego De Dios in Tanza, Cavite.

He also reiterated that he will not impose a nationwide martial law as martial rule in Mindanao is set to expire in December. —KBK, GMA News