Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a nationwide “state of lawlessness” Saturday following a Friday bomb attack that killed 14 and injured about 70 in his hometown, the city of Davao.
Duterte said his decision allows troops to be deployed in urban centers to back up the police. He also described the attack as an “act of terrorism” and blamed for it to “Islamic State group-linked rebels.”
Abu Sayyaf, a Philippine group notorious for acts of piracy, kidnappings and beheadings, had claimed responsibility for the attack, although police said they were still trying to authenticate the claim.
The attack occurred while Duterte was in Davao, located some 980 kilometers away from the capital Manila. He usually spends his weekends there and before becoming president he served for 22 years as mayor of that city, the country's fourth largest.
The state of lawlessness is not a martial law, but police and the military are authorized to search cars and frisk people at checkpoints, the state Philippines News Agency reported.
Duterte led a controversial presidential campaign marked by inflammatory speeches that prompted comparisons with the U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump. He pledged to kill 100,000 criminals and dump so many in Manila Bay that the "fish will grow fat" from feeding on them.
However the leader has been largely prized for having ended an armed conflict with communist guerrillas that lasted almost five decades and killed at least 70,000 people.