Duterte declaration gets local support
(The Freeman) - September 8, 2016 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Archbishop Jose Palma is backing the decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to place the country under an indefinite state of emergency, at least in principle.

“Where do we (Cebu Archdiocese hierarchy) stand? In principle, we say, we support the many good intentions of the President,” Palma told reporters at the sidelines of Thanksgiving Mass he officiated yesterday for the blessing of the recently-held canonization of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

Malacañang issued Proclamation 55 declaring a state of national emergency a few days after at least 14 people were killed and many others were injured when a bomb exploded in Davao City last weekend. 

Palma said the local diocesan community sympathizes and stands in solidarity with other Church leaders for the victims of the Davao bombing.

“I was in Davao yesterday (the other day). We went to Kidapawan (City). We are aware of how it inconvenienced a lot of people like people having to pass through several checkpoints,” he said.

He encouraged Catholics to be considerate about the president's decision, especially that the crisis involves national security.

“As many would say, let us try to be understanding in the hope that those who may have planned similar attacks may be dissuaded,” he said.

He said it is also important for everyone to remain vigilant and perceptive.

Interviewed separately, Cebu Auxiliary Bishop Oscar Jaime Florencio encouraged the faithful not to be intimidated by acts of extremists.

“(Let us) rely on our capacity to overthrow evildoers, God expects us to do it. He will be there to our rescue,” Florencio told The FREEMAN.

He said the Catholic faithful should not live in fear for “it is just the ploy of those evildoers so that good-intentioned people” will be restrained.

“If good-intentioned people work together, we can be a formidable wall in which no enemy can overthrow us,” he said.

More support

For Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella, Malacañang’s declaration will make the public more comfortable knowing that the government is in control of the situation. Labella said he supports the President’s decision as long as it will not lead to Martial Law.

“I think the President would like to underscore the need for a more vigilant citizenry and for the Armed forces of the Philippines. Usually, the AFP is supposedly tasked to address external aggression from the outside. But I think with the state of emergency, I think it is now the intention of the president to underscore the need to be more vigilant and watchful and this time to ask the AFP to also dip their fingers, be involved in the fight against criminality in the country,” he told reporters.

“It’s better to be overprepared than being underprepared. As I said, this is more of a proactive and preventive stand on the part of the government,” he said.

He warned, though, that the people should be wary of warrantless arrests and the declaration of Martial Law.

“As long as civil government still works, the court still functions, and the country’s judicial system still functions, there is no problem,” Labella said.

At the Capitol, Governor Hilario Davide III also urged the public to heed the call of the police not to believe any message that spread rumors about a bomb threat.

Davide said such message would only cause alarm and panic.

“Be watchful and report to the appropriate authorities sa mga unusual nga butang," Davide said.

Coordination

To widen its security coverage, the Lapu-Lapu City Police Office is tapping on the barangays to support the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the airport police.

Police Senior Supt. Rommel Cabagnot, director of LCPO, said they are tapping 10 volunteers from each barangay to work with the police and AFP.

“More on intelligence sila. No required hours of duty, kasagaran sa gabii sila mo-work kay naa man sila’y mga trabaho inig ka buntag,” Cabagnot said.

At City Hall, Mayor Paz Radaza said she instructed the police and other security elements to secure the entrance and exits of the city, such as the Mandaue-Mactan Bridge and Marcelo Fernan Bridge, wharfs, and the Mactan-Cebu International Airport.

Cabagnot has urged the public to avoid crowds, at least for now.

“Avoid lang usa kung dili necessary (ang lakaw),” he said. — Jean Marvette A. Demecillo and Le Phyllis F. Antojado (FREEMAN)

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