By Hannah Torregoza
Senator Panfilo Lacson on Sunday questioned Malacañang’s release of Memorandum Order No. 32 saying President Rodrigo Duterte could have ordered the deployment of troops to Samar, Negros Island, and the Bicol region even without it.
Lacson, a former Philippine National Police (PNP) chief, said that even without a memorandum order, the President and, even the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, upon the instruction of the President being the commander-in-chief, can deploy additional troops.
“Pupwede naman silang mag-deploy talaga, kaya nga tinawag na mobile forces e. (They really could deploy, reason they’re called mobile forces.),” Lacson said in an interview over RadyodzBB.
“Pwede silang kumuha ng ibang puwersa sa ibang lugar halimbawa sa mga lugar na wala namang masyadong problema para i-redeploy doon sa mga lugar na inakala nila nakailangan ng mas maraming puwersa ng Armed Forces. (They can get troops from other places that have no problem and redeploy them in areas where the Armed Forces need augmentation),” he pointed out.
MO No. 32, which Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea signed and issued after an order by the President, 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.
The order was meant to “prevent such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.” Likewise, the order also reinforced the guidelines under the state of national emergency, which Duterte declared in September 2016 after deadly blast in Davao City.
It was released after Duterte announced a minor reorganization in the military in light of the death of soldiers in the government’s campaign against lawless elements.
But Lacson still wonders why did the President issue MO No. 32 when there is no need to do so.
“Bakitkailangan pa ng MO No. 32 kung hindinamankailanganyun? Baka namanmeronitongpapupuntahanna may mgalugarna may planoyungMalacañangna kung hindi man ideklara ng martial law ay mag-suspend ng writ of habeas corpus (Why do they have to issue MO No. 32 if there’s no need for it? I suppose Malacañang has a plan, if not to declare martial law, probably suspend the writ of habeas corpus),” he said.
Nevertheless, Lacson assured the public that if Duterte suspends the writ of habeas corpus it will only cover those who are “judicially charged” for rebellion and basic rights will still be upheld.
“Nandiyan pa rinyung (There is still the) basic rights,” he added.
Lacson, however, said it is well within the rights of the President to use his “calling out powers” to address lawless violence in some areas as this is enshrined in the 1987 Constitution.
“Kapag may nakitatalagangdahilan, puwedesiyang mag-suspend ng writ of habeas corpus at pwederinsiyangmagdeklara ng martial law (If there is really a reason, he can suspend writ of habeas corpus, and he can also declare martial law),” the senator said. (Manila Bulletin)