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Philippine President Declares a State of Emergency Before Heading to Laos

September 6, 2016

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte arrives at the convention centre to attend the 28th and 29th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Vientiane on Sept. 6, 2016. ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared an indefinite “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence” following a deadly blast in his home city of Davao last week that left 14 dead and dozens injured.

The one-page proclamation does not require congressional approval and will remain in effect “until lifted or withdrawn by the President,” according to a senior official cited by local news site Rappler.

Duterte had initially declared a “state of lawlessness” after the Sept. 2 attack—which has been claimed by Abu Sayyaf extremists—but he said that the declaration did not amount to martial law.

See also: The Philippines Will Suspend More Mines Over Environmental Violations

Monday’s proclamation, however, grants sweeping powers to the police and the armed forces, and is not subject to a 60-day limitation as with martial law.

Duterte signed off on the decree just before boarding a plane to Laos, where he is attending a regional summit. The foul-mouthed new leader caused controversy even before his arrival. U.S. President Barack Obama called off a scheduled meeting with Duterte after he referred to Obama as a “son of a b–ch” and warned him to steer clear of questions about a spate of extrajudicial killings.

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More than 2,400 suspected drug users and dealers have been killed since Duterte took office in late June, as the former Davao City mayor — known as “The Punisher” — began a gruesome nationwide war on drugs.