Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Palace releases guidelines on State of National Emergency

MANILA, September 6, 2016 -- Malacañang on Tuesday released the guidelines to be observed for the duration of the effectivity of the State of National Emergency on Account of Lawless Violence in Mindanao that was declared by President Rodrigo Duterte last Sept. 4.



The guidelines, which were contained in a Memorandum Order signed Sept. 5 by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea by authority of the President, were promulgated to address the need for an effective and expeditious implementation of Presidential Proclamation No. 55 in order to prevent further loss of innocent lives and destruction of property and bring the whole country back to a state of complete normalcy as quickly as possible.

The guidelines likewise define and delimit the measures that the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the Philippine National Police (PNP) can undertake during the state of lawless violence so as to ensure respect for and protection of the fundamental civil and political rights of citizens.

The Memorandum Order (MO) directs the Department of National Defense (DND) and the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) to coordinate the immediate deployment of additional forces of the AFP and the PNP to suppress lawless violence and acts of terror in Mindanao and prevent such violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the country.

To the extent possible, the DND and the DILG shall deploy AFP and PNP personnel on major streets and thoroughfares, as well as near crowded places such as malls and train stations in order to increase troop and military visibility for deterrence and quick-response purposes, without causing undue alarm to the general public.

The Memorandum Order also directs the AFP and the PNP to intensify their local and transnational intelligence operations against individuals or groups suspected of or responsible for committing or conspiring to commit acts of lawless violence in the Philippines and may draw from budgetary funds duly appropriated for the purpose.

In the meantime, the Department of Justice (DOJ) is directed to closely coordinate with the PNP and other law enforcement agencies for the prompt investigation and prosecution of all individuals or groups apprehended for committing, or conspiring to commit, acts of lawless violence.

All local government units are likewise enjoined to give their full support and utmost cooperation to ensure the effective implementation of the MO.

At all times, the constitutional rights of every individual shall be respected and given due regard by the AFP and the PNP in the implementation of the Memorandum Order

The MO stresses that no civil or political rights are suspended during the existence of the state of lawless violence.

In particular, the MO states that no warrantless arrests shall be effected unless the situation falls under the any of the following circumstances:

- When the person to be arrested has committed, is actually committing, or is attempting to commit an offense in the presence of the arresting officer;

- When an offense has just been committed and the arresting officer has personal knowledge of facts indicating that the person to be arrested has committed the offense;

- When the person to be arrested is a prisoner who has escaped from a penal establishment or place where he is serving final judgement or temporarily confined while his case is pending; and

- When the person arrested or to be arrested has voluntarily waived his right against warrantless arrests.Similarly, existing rules and jurisprudence shall be strictly observed when effecting warrantless searches and seizures, such as the following instances:

- When the person to be searched has consented to the search or has voluntarily waived his right against warrantless searches and seizures.

- As an incident to a lawful arrest, and the search is contemporaneous to the arrest and within a permissible area of search;

- Search of vessels and aircraft for violation of immigration or customs laws

- When the objects to be seized are in plain view;

- Stop-and-frisk situations; and

- Search arising from exigent and emergency circumstances.

In the case of police/military checkpoints, inspection shall be limited to request to roll down vehicle windows, search for things in plain view and production of identification and vehicle registration papers.

No further intrusive actions shall be taken, such as demanding the opening of trunks or lids or asking person or persons on board to step out unless the subject individual consents or agrees thereto

In stop-and-frisk situations, search shall be limited to light patting on the outer garments of the subject individual to detect the possession of weapons or similar effects.

The MO states that any AFP or PNP personnel found violating any of the foregoing constitutional rights shall be held administratively and civilly/criminally liable. (by Cielito M. Reganit, PNA)
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