MANILA, Philippines – Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday, November 25, questioned President Rodrigo Duterte's new memorandum order (MO) against lawless violence, even as she did not object to increasing troops in Bicol, Samar, and Negros Island.
Robredo said Malacañang should justify its use of the term "lawless violence," as many worried about creeping martial law across the country.
"Wala tayong objection sa pag-augment. Very welcome iyon na balita (We have no objections about augmenting them. That's very welcome news)," Robredo said on her Sunday radio show Biserbisyong Leni.
But Robredo also said, "Natatakot iyong mga tao na baka parang platform ito para magdeklara ng martial law na palagay ng lahat, kahit pa may ambush dito, hindi naman kailangan… Mas dapat sagutin bakit ba in the last two years, tumindi na naman iyong insurgency."
(This is worrisome for the public because it can be used as grounds to declare martial law, which, although ambushes happen here, is not needed... What needs to be answered is why insurgency has intensified over the last two years.)
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said on Friday, November 23, that news reports of New People's Army attacks were among those Duterte considered in issuing MO 32.
MO 32 orders the Department of National Defense and the Department of the Interior and Local Government to "coordinate the immediate deployment of additional forces of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror" in those areas.
Robredo then noted that violent activities by insurgents have been commonplace since the administration of former president Corazon Aquino and the presidencies afterwards.
She said these lessened during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.
Robredo, though, said with an increase in these incidents, it was necessary for government to look into why these were happening.
Robredo's statement was echoed by Liberal Party (LP) senatorial bet Chel Diokno, who said that supposed instances of "lawless violence" needed to be validated before any declaration of a state of emergency is issued.
"'Pag hindi sinusunod ang proseso, nagbibigay-daan ito sa pang-aabuso. Katarungan at hindi pang-aabuso ang ating hinahangad," Diokno said in a statement Sunday. (If this process is not followed, it ill give way to abuse. We are after justice, not abuse.)
Meanwhile, LP Senate bet Erin Tañada said MO 32 was a "fear-mongering" tactic of the Duterte administration, which took attention away from economic problems such as the increasing prices of goods and high inflation.
"The people of Samar, Bicol, and Negros will suffer even more with this increased militarization… They want the government's attention and resources to be directed at the real problem – which is inflation and sky-rocketing prices – not at imagined ones," he said. – Rappler.com