Interview with Presidential Chief Legal Counsel and Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo by Karmina Constantino (Dateline-ANC)

CONSTANTINO: (recording starts)… prevent lawless violence, tell us. 

SEC. PANELO: Well, there had been many acts of violence in those areas mentioned in the order and it is necessary for the PNP, the DILG, as well as the DND to intensify or rather to deploy troops in those areas. 

CONSTANTINO: Okay. But why go straight to the military and the police, why not talk to the local chief executives first? Find out what’s happening? Maybe there’s a solution right there. 

SEC. PANELO: Well, that’s part of the directive. There are three or four parts of the directives in that order: One is to coordinate and to deploy troops into those areas to suppress the acts of terror; number two, to intensify local and transnational intelligence operation against suspects who are said to be committing acts of lawless violence; and number three, the local governments are enjoined to support and cooperate with the implementation of the order. Of course this is—there is another one which reminds all of them that there will be due regards to the rights of the individuals, civil and political as well. 

CONSTANTINO: But what crimes are being committed there, Secretary Panelo or what are these sporadic acts of violence that were mentioned in the memo? 

SEC. PANELO: Well, there have been ambushes. There have been conflicts, armed conflicts between groups. And citizens are becoming part of the collateral damages involving these groups. 

CONSTANTINO: Can you give us a timeline as to when the assessment of these areas started and what was the stepping point that the President suddenly thought it best to deploy military and police forces in those areas?

SEC. PANELO: Well, remember the farmers that were killed in Sagay, Negros— 


SEC. PANELO: It’s one of them and many others. We had been receiving a [unclear], that’s why there’s a need to issue that administrative order. 

CONSTANTINO: These acts of violence, are these random acts of violence, are these particularly hinged or chained to what the Palace might perceived as acts of terror coming from the insurgents?   

SEC. PANELO: Yeah. Some of them are from insurgents; some of them are from terrorists; some of them are private conflict between landlords and farmers. 

CONSTANTINO:  Alright, so why is there a need for the military and police to sort of take control of what should be the role of the civilian government? 

SEC. PANELO: Of course, if the civilian government cannot handle it, then there’s a need for support and even if they can handle it, there’s a need for support coming from the PNP, that’s precisely the job of the PNP, the Armed Forces of the Philippines to suppress lawless violence. 

CONSTANTINO: Alright, but the Palace is very clear with this. This is just for support, this is not to take over, correct Secretary? 

SEC. PANELO: Well, definitely yes, of course, of course. 

CONSTANTINO:  How will things change for the residents in these areas? 

SEC. PANELO: Ano iyon? 

CONSTANTINO: How will things change for the residents in these areas? 

SEC. PANELO: How will it change? 

CONSTANTINO: Yes, how will life change for them, now that there’s an additional deployment of military and police forces? 

SEC. PANELO: As I said earlier, there is a directive enjoining them to protect the rights – civil and political – of the individuals in that area. 

CONSTANTINO: The memo, Secretary Panelo also speaks the reinforcement of guidelines of a state of national emergency. What did the President mean by that? 

SEC. PANELO: Well, it means that the state of national emergency is still on and we have to implement it especially in areas where there acts of terrorism and acts of lawless violence. 

CONSTANTINO:  And for now this areas are Samar, the Bicol region, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental. What other areas does the President looking at? 

SEC. PANELO: Yes, those places where we have received reports of those acts of violence. You remember, in the Bicol area where you have the Chief of the—what agency is that? Nelia Charade Puno, the Director (FDA) who was doon sa ambushed. It’s only one of those incidents reported to us. 

CONSTANTINO: But, is the President looking at other areas as well? 

SEC. PANELO: Only when reports of acts of violence reaches to us, if there is none, so we should not be concerned. 

CONSTANTINO: So you cannot tell us that this is going to be the last of the deployment of additional military and police personnel to other areas that this— 

SEC. PANELO: That depends, that depends if there are acts of violence and act of terrorism in other areas then certainly that order will have to be implemented, that applies to them. 

CONSTANTINO: Mr. Secretary, tell us finally, why this shouldn’t be seen as a creeping martial law? 

SEC. PANELO: If it’s a martial law—it’s a different thing. You will remember, Karmina that martial law has been declared for over a year in Mindanao and the people there are in fact in support of it; that Archbishop there made a statement in support of it. They are not complaining. In fact, there had been no reported abuses from the military – this is a different martial law. It’s strictly enforcing the law against lawless violence, against acts of terrorism. 

CONSTANTINO: And why shouldn’t people be concerned or worried that the President has placed former generals, former military, former police officials in key post in the government and also the support as you call it, to suppress lawless violence in some areas. Why shouldn’t be the people—why shouldn’t the people be worried about those actions? 

SEC. PANELO: Why should they be worried in the first place? They are precisely being placed there for their own security. 

CONSTANTINO: Before the year ends, Secretary Panelo, can we expect the President to make such a similar announcement this time concerning other areas? 

SEC. PANELO: Before what? 

CONSTANTINO:  The year ends. 

SEC. PANELO: The year ends. Well, as I said earlier, if there are reports coming to us regarding acts of violence and acts of terrorism, then the government will respond accordingly. 

CONSTANTINO: Secretary Sal Panelo, Presidential Spokesperson, Chief Legal Counsel as well. Thank you so much for taking our call, appreciate talking to you. 

SEC. PANELO: Thank you.


Source: PCOO-NIB (News and Information Bureau-Data Processing Center)