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Lorenzana rules out troop deployment in new regions.

Delfin Lorenzana: allaying fears

By Dempsey Reyes/Manila Times

President Rodrigo Duterte's order to deploy additional police and military troops to Samar, Bicol and Negros will not be expanded to other regions, Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said yesterday. Lorenzana said the places under Memorandum Order 32 were areas prone to attacks by the communist New People's Army (NPA). "No need (for expansion). Those are only areas where the NPA are strong," he said in an interview with radio station dzRH. The Defence chief also warned the NPA could interfere in the May 2019 elections. "So, (the memorandum) is one of our ways to ensure that the campaign and election itself will be peaceful and fair," Lorenzana stressed. He also allayed fears that the memorandum would be a prelude to nationwide martial law. "The people have nothing to fear since there is no martial law (nationwide). There is no martial law indicated in the order, this is just to heighten our efforts in maintaining the peace and order in (those) places, especially in the countryside," Lorenzana said. Col. Noel Detoyato, Armed Forces public affairs chief, said critics of Memorandum Order 32 were siding with lawless groups. "This memorandum is intended to freely check all the activities of the enemies. You know, the lawless elements are scared with the presence of additional law enforcers," he said in a radio interview. Detoyato and Lorenzana said human rights would be respected in areas covered by the memorandum. The order was issued in response to the massacre of nine sugarcane workers in Sagay City and the ambush of the police-escorted convoy of Food and Drug Administration Chief Nela Charade Puno in Camarines Sur. Malacanang yesterday said the order of President Duterte to deploy more soldiers and policemen to Samar, Negros Oriental, Negros Occidental and the Bicol Region was not meant to weaken the opposition months before the 2019 mid-term elections. In a news briefing, Palace spokesman Salvador Panelo denied the claim of Bayan Muna chairman Neri Colmenares, who said that such was the plan of the administration, given the timing of the order's release. "I think he has not read the memorandum. The memorandum precisely and expressly says that we should respect the rights of the individual. That Memorandum 32 was done pursuant to the constitutional duty of the president to protect and preserve the people," Panelo said. "There were series of acts committed against civilians, against soldiers and policemen in those areas and therefore there is a need to deploy troops, as well as PNP forces in that area to secure the people, for their own safety and peace of the area," he added.

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Publication:Gulf Times (Doha, Qatar)
Date:Nov 26, 2018
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