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Duterte allays terror fears

Palace rules out suspension of habeas writ

MALACAÑANG on Monday quelled fears over the possible suspension of the writ of habeas corpus amid continued terror threats.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella scored opposition lawmakers who claimed that President Rodrigo Duterte was laying down conditions to declare the suspension of the privilege of habeas corpus, following the discovery of a bomb near the US Embassy as well as the ongoing military operations against the Maute local terrorist group.

“The reaction of opposition lawmakers that the discovery of IED near the US Embassy along with movement of the Maute group may be laying a foundation for the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is reading too much into the situation,” Abella said.

“The suspicious circumstances are already being investigated,” he added.

Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said there was no compelling reason to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus at this point.

“As a strong advocate of the rule of law, he is fully aware of the limits of presidential powers,” Andanar said. “Given this, President Duterte believes any intervention at his level is unnecessary.”

Andanar also said that there was no cause for alarm in Metro Manila after an improvised explosive device was found near the US Embassy on Roxas Boulevard.

“The PNP is on top of the situation and shall beef up security measures in public places especially where there are big crowds,” Andanar said in a statement.

A member of police bomb disposal unit places a water bomb disruptor at the site, where a suspicious package was found, for detonation along Roxas boulevard near the US embassy in Manila.
“We assure the public that this incident should not be a cause for alarm. Business and work continue as normal,” he added,

A bomb was found by a street sweeper in a trash can along the boulevard at past 7 a.m., with parts of the improvised bomb, including an 81-mm mortar, a 9-volt battery, a cellphone, a switch and a blasting cap.

Investigators said the mortar was similar to the one used in the night market bombing in Davao City that killed 15 people in September.

The attack prompted Duterte to declare a state of lawless violence nationwide.

Andanar said that police have already heightened security in Metro Manila.

Members of the Explosive Ordinance Division (EOD) of the Manila Police District Command gather evidence after detonating an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) found near US Embassy along Roxas Boulevard in Manila. Norman Cruz
“To ensure public safety in airports, seaports, bus and mass transport terminals, concerned transport agencies are instructed to increase the visibility and presence of uniformed personnel and heighten the screening of persons and luggage as part of our security vigilance,” he added. 

Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa bristled at speculation that the government had orchestrated a bomb threat to pave the way for the declaration of Martial Law.

“For God’s sake, the government will not use an incident that will cause panic, fear and undue harm to its own people to declare martial law,” Dela Rosa told the ABS-CBN network. “We wouldn’t do that. What if our children were hurt in the blast?”

“Think that there is a God watching over all of us, and stop insinuating that the government is behind this,” he said in Filipino.

Topics: Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella , Writ of habeas corpus , Suspension , Malacañang , Terror threats , President Rodrigo Duterte , US Embassy , Improvised Explosive Device(IED) , Maute group , Secretary Martin Andanar , Philippine National Police(PNP) , Ronald
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