Duterte Cancels Trip to Brunei, But Will Attend ASEAN Summit in Laos

Manila, 01 Dzulhijjah 1437/03 September 2016 (MINA) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has decided to cancel his trip to Brunei to focus on the security situation in Davao City where a powerful explosion killed 14 people and wounded almost 70 others on Friday night, Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced on Saturday.

Duterte will push through with his trip to Laos to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders summit and related meetings there next week, Xinhua quoted Andanar as saying.

Duterte is also expected to make a working visit to Indonesia after that.

Duterte on Saturday declared “a state of lawlessness,” authorizing the military and the police “to run the country.”

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“It’s not martial law, but I am inviting now the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the military and the police, to run the country in accordance with my specifications,” Duterte told reporters during a visit to the bomb site shortly before dawn Saturday.

“There will be major checkpoints,” Duterte said, but there is no suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

“I have this duty to protect the country. I have this duty to keep intact the integrity of the nation,” he said.

Duterte was in his hometown Davao City when the blast ripped off a crowded strip of the night market shortly after 10:00 p.m. local time Friday.

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“Davao is safe, there is no criminality here except terrorism,” Duterte said, adding that he still considers the incident a police matter, “not war.”

 

Police force on high alert

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement to the media that Duterte “may call out such armed forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion.”

Abella urged Filipinos to “remain alert to the activities of those who wish to create chaos.”

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald de la Rosa said the police force across the country has been placed on heightened alert.

“We have already declared full alert status effective Friday night to all our regional police offices throughout the country, meaning 100 percent of our personnel should be on stand by status and ready to be deployed to quell the threat,” De la Rosa said.

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The extremist Abu Sayyaf group has reportedly claimed responsibility for the blast, but De la Rosa said the military and the police are still verifying the authenticity of the report.

Doctors said in televised press conference that many of the injured sustained shrapnel wounds and are in critical condition. (T/R07/R01)

Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)