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Palace assures MO on troop deployment not prelude to martial law

Malacañang on Monday clarified that Memorandum Order (MO) 32 was issued to protect and preserve the people, and is not a prelude to the declaration of martial law or the suspension of writ of habeas corpus nationwide.

“We repeatedly said, if there is any intention, then it should have been declared. But there is none,” Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said in a Palace press briefing.

Panelo said Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea issued the MO on Nov. 22 to prevent any act against the government from spreading throughout the country.

“We have the enumeration of incidents, of killings, of ambushes, of destruction of properties in those areas. That is why there is a need for that,” Panelo said.

In May last year, Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law after the Maute terrorist group attacked Marawi City, resulting in a six-month war that reduced the southern city in ruins.

MO 32 reinforced guidelines that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police (PNP) have been utilizing to suppress and prevent ‘sporadic acts’ of violence allegedly committed by lawless groups particularly in the provinces of Samar, Negros Oriental and Occidental, and Bicol Region.

Under the MO, the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) shall coordinate the “immediate deployment” of additional military and police forces in Samar, Negros provinces, and Bicol.

Panelo said the order was not only preemptive but “at the same time, a reaction to what is happening there”.

“There were series of acts committed against civilians, against soldiers and policemen in those areas and therefore there is a need to deploy troops, as well as PNP forces in that area to secure the people, for its own safety and peace of the area,” he said.

He also allayed concerns expressed by Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares that the MO will be used against the opposition candidates during the upcoming campaign period for 2019 polls.

“I think he has not read the Memorandum. The Memorandum precisely and expressly says that we should respect the rights of the individual. That Memorandum 32 was done pursuant to the constitutional duty of the President to protect and preserve the people,” Panelo said.

“And even if there has anything to do with that, the more Mr. Colmenares should be happy about that because you will be securing the area during election time,” he added.

Jelly Musico / PNA