President Rodrigo Duterte, through Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea, issued Memorandum Order 32, directing the deployment of more soldiers and cops in Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and Bicol region to “suppress lawless violence and acts of terror.”
The STAR/Edd Gumban
AFP: Memorandum Order No. 32 no prelude to nationwide martial law
( - November 25, 2018 - 3:45pm

MANILA, Philippines — The spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Sunday said President Rodrigo Duterte’s Memorandum Order No. 32 ordering the deployment of more troops to parts of the Visayas and the Bicol region is not a prelude to a declaration of martial law.

In a radio interview, Brig. Gen. Edgard Arebalo, AFP spokesman, said the military is very supportive of the Palace’s order to deploy additional police and military forces to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the Bicol region.

The order is meant to “suppress lawless violence and acts of terror” and “prevent such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.”

 “We are very supportive sa hakbang na iyan at inisyatiba ng ating pamahalaan dahil ang pangkalahatang layunin nito ay pagsawata sa lawless violence at acts of terror sa mga nabanggit na lugar, upang hindi na kumalat sa iba pang bahagi ng bansa lalo na sa Metro Manila,” Arevalo was quoted as saying by radio dzBB.

(We are very supportive of that step and initiative by the government because the overall objective is to prevent lawless violence and acts of terror in the said places, to keep them from spreading to other places in the Philippines, especially Metro Manila.)

“Pero kung sasabihin natin na that is a prelude to declaration of national Martial Law, wala po iyang relasyon sapagkat specific naman po ang mga binabanggit na mga lugar kung saan tayo sinasabing magdaragdag ng pwersa,” he added.

(But as to whether that is a prelude to the declaration of national martial law, that has nothing to do with it because there are specific areas where we will send more forces) 

Under the memorandum, the AFP, the Philippine National Police and the Department of Justice shall intensify their intelligence operations against individuals or groups suspected of, or are responsible for, committing or conspiring commit acts of lawless violence in the country, as well as investigation and prosecution.

READ: Palace orders deployment of more troops to Samar, Negros, Bicol to quell ‘lawless violence’

The memorandum indicated that the public’s constitutional rights shall be respected by the military and police forces during the implementation of the order.

Details of deployment up for discussion

Arevalo said the AFP is still waiting for a directive for AFP to meet and identify the operation on the ground under the memorandum.

The AFP spokesman said it should coordinate with the Department of National Defense and the Department of Interior and Local Government and study the directive of the president..

“Kailangan pa natin itong pag-aralang mabuti dahil hindi tayo basta-basta pwedeng mag-deploy ng pwersa nang hindi pa natin nakikita ang operational tempo,” Arevalo said.

(We have to study this well because we cannot just deploy forces without seeing the operational tempo)

The memorandum was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on Thursday. It reinforces guidelines under the "state of national emergency on account of lawless violence" declared across the Philippines in September 2016. That declaration was in response to a bombing at a night market in Davao City that month that killed over dozens of people and hurt more than 60 others.

Duterte cited “a number of sporadic acts of violence” happening recently in four areas covered by the memorandum.

Presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo, who is also and chief presidential legal counsel, cited ambush attacks, assault on police detachments, massacre of workers, clashes in some of these areas as events considered in issuance of the memorandum.

The president also placed Mindanao under martial law in response to the Marawi siege in May 2017. The martial law has been extended by the Congress until December 31 this year.

RELATED: Groups raise alarm on Duterte’s order to send more troops in parts of country

Sugar workers' group warns of more abuses on Negros

In a related release, the National Federation of Sugar Workers, members of whom were killed by unknown gunmen during a land cultivation activity in a portion of  hacienda in Sagay City, Negros Occidental, said the inclusion of the killings of the "Sagay 9" in the deployment of more forces to Negros Island "ensures that there will be no justice for the victims of the carnage."

The government has been insisting that the New People's Army is behind the Sagay killings, an assertion that the NPA rejects and that a fact-finding mission of leftist activist organizations has questioned.

RELATED: A closer look at 'bungkalan', the supposedly sinister plot 

The Sagay City killings were followed by the murder of lawyer Benjamin Ramos in early November by unidentified motorcycle-riding gunmen. The Philippine National Police has claimed that Ramos' supposed gambling may have been a factor in his death, but his widow has said he had been under surveillance for several years for handling the cases of slain activists.

Ramos had also earlier been tagged in a public poster as one of the “so-called personalities of the underground armed movement,” said the National Union of People's Lawyers, which he had helped organize in 2007.

NFSW said the deployment of more troops "only formalizes the de facto martial law that is happening especially in its rural areas," which, it said, "is a prelude to the declaration of nationwide martial law."

The sugar workers' group, which was founded in 1971, also warned of the posiibiity of more massacres on Negros, which is known as among the problem areas for the implementation of the government's Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program.

"Killing with impunity [would continue] as hacienderos retain their vast landholdings on the island backed up by state security forces and local goons," NFSW warned.

 —Rosette Adel with reports from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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