Many are wondering what a state of violence means. This term was used by President Duterte in his reaction against the bombing of the Davao night market which resulted to 15 killed and 65 persons wounded.
A state of lawless violence, if we are to consult the basic charter, is a pre-condition , a pre-requisite if you may, for a president to be able to have the power to "call out such Armed Forces to prevent or suppress lawless violence, invasion or rebellion" (Sec. 18, Art VII 1987 Constitution).
What the president used was not this specific term "lawless violence" but a "state of lawlessness." Is it similar to the term in the charter about "lawless violence". No.
A state of lawlessness has a different definition. As generally accepted in the international community, a state of lawlessness is similar to "state violence" which essentially means: (1) Terrorism carried out or sponsored by a government, which involves deliberate attacks on civilians, for the purpose of attaining a political or religious goal; or (2) Acts of violence committed by an official state, military or sponsored by a sovereign government outside of the context of a declared war, which target civilians or show a disregard for civilian life in attacking targets—either people or facilities.
The Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to government, particularly DILG secretary Mike Sueno, who is a very close Duterte associate. Sueno got some kind of publicity when he admitted that he was the one responsible for organising the "Alsa Masa", a notorious armed civilian group which committed numerous human rights violations during Martial law and unto the eighties.
Sueno was credited for having supported this group and he is now proposing to Duterte to create such as group to "run against drug syndicates" albeit, unarmed (for the time being). Sueno says the DILG will launch this type of group next week.
I am extremely worried on the big possibility of state extremism because of this declaration of a state of lawlessness. This declaration gives Duterte powers which are beyond reach of the Constitution.
I think there are two (2) reasons why this Davao bombing is highly suspicious.
1. It was immediately declared shortly after Duterte tripled state forces in Mindanao. Reports say his son, the vice mayor of Davao got information about the bombing two days ago. Is this administration anticipating an escalation of violence from threat groups?
2. Aside from this bombing, there was no other bombings in other places. Why, then declare a state of lawlessness throughout the Philippines, when the incident could actually be an isolated one? The bombing happened in Davao only, and not in several places of the archiepelago. Why immediately declare such a condition to effected all over the country Is it because Duterte is actually salivating to get one so that the EJKs happening all around us is legally justified?
A day or two prior to this bombing, the AFP declared that the ASG is already weak and ready for the kill. This bombing could be a diversion, and the possibility is big. If the enemy is already weakening, then, why put the entire country under this condition which gives a President the widest latitude to do what he wants?
Is this similar to the alleged bombings reportedly perpetuated by former AFP chief of Staff Reyes whom Senator Trillianes IV accused of masterminding previous Davao bombings to justify the grant of more draconian powers to former president Arroyo? Are we seeing a repeat of history?