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Davao security tightened amid martial law in Mindanao

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DAVAO ON ALERTMayor Sara Duterte appeals to Davao City residents to report to authorities anyone they see displaying or sporting the insignia of the Islamic State as security measures are heightened in the home city of President Duterte following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao.  —PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVAO CITY INFORMATION OFFICE

DAVAO ON ALERT Mayor Sara Duterte appeals to Davao City residents to report to authorities anyone they see displaying or sporting the insignia of the Islamic State as security measures are heightened in the home city of President Duterte following the declaration of martial law in Mindanao. —PHOTO COURTESY OF DAVAO CITY INFORMATION OFFICE

DAVAO CITY—After President Duterte put the entire island of Mindanao under martial law on Tuesday night, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte ordered a lockdown in the entire city, saying she wanted to prevent diversionary or retaliatory attacks from groups sowing fear in Marawi City.

Hours later, however, the mayor downgraded her order to “hold and secure” the entire city. Her office issued a set of guidelines on how citizens and visitors should behave amid the alert.

“We do not have specific information on any attack but it is not remote,” said Duterte, daughter of the President.

“If they wanted to divert attention, they would do it here because here is where the President lives. And also Davao City is the rallying point of Mindanao,” she added.

Under a lockdown situation, travel to and from the city should have been prohibited. But the mayor decided to downgrade the order to “hold and secure,” which also set some restrictions.

“We have changed the situation in Davao but we have come up with a set of guidelines for Dabawenyos waiting for the President to come home,” she told reporters on Wednesday.

Duterte said some activities under the hold and secure situation would still be restricted or discouraged.

While holding a photograph of a black flag with an insignia of the Islamic State, the mayor asked citizens to call 911 immediately if they saw “suspicious-looking persons, vehicles, materials or actions, including meetings among individuals or strangers.”
She also discouraged travel to and from Davao City unless it was urgent. She said people coming to the city should not bring large amounts of money.

“Do not leave your houses if you do not have business matters to attend to outside,” she said. “Traveling in motorcycle convoys is also discouraged.”

She said people should avoid loitering in public places and stay away from crowded areas, although the night market, the scene of a bomb explosion that killed 15 people in September last year, and other entertainment-related businesses would remain open.

She encouraged religious activities to be done during the day. She said Muslims, who break their fast in the evening or attend night prayers during the Ramadan, should limit their activities inside their houses, mosques or compounds of mosques.

“They should also [practice] the buddy system when they travel,” she said.

The city will not stop protest rallies but the mayor ordered organizers to secure permits from the local government.

“We will implement maximum tolerance for rallies. All rallies should have permits. If they do not want to apply for permits, they can conduct their [protest actions] at Freedom Park,” she said.

She asked parents not to allow minors to go out at night, but in case they needed to leave for an important activity, minors should be accompanied by adults. She said relatives should accompany those working on night shifts.

Duterte said checkpoints would be established around the city under the current situation.

“Ensure that you have updated vehicle registration papers and driver’s licenses. Ensure that you have valid and existing licenses for your guns, your personal guns. You cooperate with the [Armed Forces of the Philippines] and the [Philippine National Police] in the conduct of checkpoints,” she said.

She urged people to allow lawmen to inspect their vehicles.

“Don’t burden them [with protests] if you have nothing to hide. If you are hiding something, don’t go out of your homes anymore,” she said.

She also asked residents to “always bring valid IDs (identification cards).”

Vehicles, she said, should not be left unattended for a long period.

Businesses and schools, she said, should invest in security plans and should not keep large amounts of cash.

“They are encouraged to create emergency plans [as soon as possible]. Invest in firefighting equipment and security,” she said.

Duterte said schools should also screen guests and should not allow anybody in if their intention was unclear.

Visitors have been discouraged from going to areas not identified as tourist destinations. They should also bring IDs with them all the time.

“These are our guidelines while we are waiting for the parameters that will be set by the Office of the President and the AFP with regard to martial law,” she said.

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