DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 10 February) — Only portions of the city will be placed on lockdown for the anti-terror “Southern Storm Drills” on February 8 to March 1, Chief Supt. Manuel Gaerlan, regional police chief, said.
Gaerlan said the lockdown, in the areas where the simulated exercises will be held, will not take long. “Maybe a few minutes practice on how do you lock down, who does what,” he said.
“The last thing want” is to cause a major disruption in the residents’ daily routine, Gaerlan told MindaNews Friday night.
He said the scope of the lockdown will depend on the exercise.
“Southern Storm,” a brainchild of Philippine National Police Director-General Ronald dela Rosa, a former chief of police here, is designed as a series of anti-terror exercises that will be implemented nationwide but piloted in this city on February 28.
Gaerlan acknowledged there will be a “konting (little) inconvenience but hopefully hindi naman grabe.”
He likened the lockdown to what happened during an international summit in Manila. “Ang lockdown doon is the CCP complex. Parang ganon eh (Something like that). When you say lockdown, controlled ang entrance and exit ng vehicles (the entrance and exit of vehicles are controlled).
Asked if this would cause flight delays since the airport has been mentioned as among the areas that will be used for the drills, Garlan said: “Hopefully not. As much as possible we do not want to disrupt (the daily routine). Of course may konting disruption sa immediate (area).”
Maritime exercises will also be held along the Davao Gulf, he said.
Gaerlan said there will be role-playing during the simulated exercies, some portraying the aggressors, others the victims “para mas realistic” (to make it more realistic).
No other details have been made available to the public. But Gaerlan said they hope to release a briefer on Southern Storm soon “next week most probably” as coordination between and among agencis is still ongoing.
Mayor Sara Duterte had earlier urged Dabawenyos to be patient and to prepare for the drills which may bring some inconvenience. But she assured “the little inconvenience on the part of the public during the simulation will save lives in the future.”
Karapatan Southern Mindanao Region in a statement on February 9, denounced the scheduled lockdown “as the latest in the series of calibrated attacks on civil liberties that are being carried out by Presidential daughter Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte and her able henchmen in the military and police establishment.”
It said the city government “wants to permanently emasculate dissent, discourse and freedom,” that the lockdown “is part of the ongoing anti-communist hysteria of the US-Duterte regime first to be experimented in Davao City and surely to be implemented in other parts of the country,” and that it is “part of the Oplan Kapayapaan counterinsurgency plan that targets leaders and members of various progressive organizations in the region whom Pres. Duterte tagged as ‘legal fronts’ and ‘terrorists.’
It said the proposed lockdown “remains as an outright curtailment of the people’s rights and freedom” and that in the context of an extended martial law in Mindanao, “such drills condition the public of more lawless acts by the government that it justifies through the anti-terror hysteria it has concocted.”
Mayor Duterte said the public will “greatly benefit if we are well-prepared – whether it is for incidents considered as acts of God or by people with bad intentions since I do not want casualties.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)