Travel to and from Davao City discouraged amid martial law

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Davao City (CNN Philippines, May 24) — Davao City is on heightened alert following President Rodrigo Duterte's declaration of martial law in Mindanao.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio on Wednesday said the local government is implementing a hold and secure protocol to "prevent violence from coming in to Davao City."

"We are discouraging travel to and from Davao City. We also discourage travel to other places in Mindanao," Duterte-Carpio told reporters in a press briefing.

The mayor earlier declared a lockdown, which is used in more extreme emergencies where all entry points to an area are blocked. A hold and secure is enforced when the threat comes from outside.

But Duterte-Carpio said Davao City will not close its doors to evacuees from conflict areas.

Davao City is more than 250 kilometers from Marawi City in Lanao Del Sur, where government troops clashed with terror Maute group on Tuesday, prompting President Duterte to declare martial law.

Read: Duterte declares martial law in Mindanao

Duterte-Carpio said the city's security forces are determined to thwart any possible retaliatory attack from the Maute group. 

"Hindi naman malayo na kung gusto nilang magdivert ng attention from what is happening in Marawi (It's not impossible that if they want to divert the attention from what is happening in Marawi), they would want to do it here in Davao City, because number 1 dito nakatira ang Presidente (it's where the President lives)," the presidential daughter said.

"So kung gusto mong gumawa ng statement (If you want to make a statement), Davao City," she added.

Guidelines

While waiting for the President to issue guidelines on the implementation of martial law, the local government of Davao City came up with its own set of guidelines. 

Duterte-Carpio said their 30-point guidelines will be revised once the President releases official instructions.

Under the guidelines, children below 18 years old are "extremely discouraged to go out of their residences except when accompanied by adults.

Davaoeños are also encouraged  to conduct religious activities during daytime, to avoid loitering at night.

Duterte-Carpio also ordered stricter, round-the-clock inspections in checkpoints all over the city.

She directed the police to examine compartments of public and private vehicles and conduct body search of drivers and passengers when needed.

Duterte-Carpio said she wants security forces to focus on the coastal areas, which are believed to be the entry and exit points of terrorists passing by Davao City.

She appealed to the public for cooperation amid tight security measures, and advised residents to stay inside their homes.

Col. Erwin Bernard Neri, commander of military-led Task Force Davao, assured the residents that authorities will respect human rights.

Meanwhile, Sr. Supt. Alexander Tagum, Davao City Police Office director, said he will take full responsibility for all the actions of his men.

Maute members under police custody

Duterte-Carpio said she wants detained Maute Group members to be transferred to Manila for security reasons.

"May mga Maute group members na nakakulong dito so I am planning also na matransfer sila sa Luzon, (There are Maute Group members detained here so I am planning to have them transferred to Luzon)" Mayor Duterte said.

The Maute members were arrested for their alleged involvement in the Roxas night market bombing that killed 15 people and wounded dozens of others in September 2016.

Davao City-based journalist Ben Tesiorna contributed to this report.