Peace and order in Negros 'remains normal' – Albayalde
MANILA, Philippines – Philippine National Police (PNP) chief General Oscar Albayalde insisted on Tuesday, August 6, that the peace and order situation in Negros Island remained "normal."
Albayalde made the statement in a press briefing at the Camp Crame gymnasium on Tuesday, nearly a week after President Rodrigo Duterte said he eyed emergency powers to address the spate of violence in Negros Island.
"I'm glad to announce that peace and order in Negros Oriental remains normal," Albayalde said.
The police chief reiterated that the police still had the security situation in the area "under control." He cited as proof of his assessment the arrest of suspects in the killing of 4 policemen in Negros Oriental a week ago.
At least 21 people were killed in Negros Oriental from July 18 to 27, including a lawyer, local government officials, and a one-year-old boy. On Sunday, August 4, a Bacolod-based journalist pursuing stories related to the killings reported being followed by a "suspicious" man riding a motorcycle.
Albayalde said the way the incidents had been presented as a "series of killings" only caused "alarm" among the locals.
"'Yun kasing sabi nila na 'series of killings' doon, nag-create lang ng alarm sa ating mga kababayan doon (What they called a 'series of killings' there only caused alarm among our people there," Albayalde said.
He argued that despite the killings, people continued to go on with their daily lives.
Why this matters: Duterte earlier said he would employ "drastic" measures to quell violence in Negros. His spokesman, Salvador Panelo, went as far as to say that Duterte "can declare martial law" in the island – if security officials so recommend.
The police currently see no reason to employ extreme measures, and said they were bent on preventing a situation that would prompt the Chief Executive to resort to emergency powers. (READ: SC ruling: Duterte can put 'entire PH' under martial law)
"That's the very reason we're doing everything so I guess we can evade what the President said that he needs to do drastic measures," Albayalde said in a mix of English and Filipino.
He added, however, that nothing would keep Duterte from exercising emergency powers or even declare martial law in Negros, if he saw a reason to do so.
"If he sees that it [the situation] worsens, then maybe he will still decide on it," Albayalde said. – Rappler.com