President Rodrigo Duterte will look into the recommendation of the Philippine Army and the police to impose martial law in Sulu in the wake of the deadly blasts in the province’s capital Jolo on Monday, Malacañang said Wednesday.
Speaking to CNN-Philippines, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte “listens” to the people on the ground.
“The President of course will consider this recommendation as will both Congress and the Supreme Court. Although a recommendation has been made, the President has to be very careful that it would pass the scrutiny of both the legislative and judicial branches of government,” Roque said.
“The recommendations have been made and the President listens to those on the ground.”
Roque said Duterte recently had a command conference with the police and military regarding the blasts but the Palace spokesperson admitted he was not privy to the discussions.
Asked why the televised address of the President on Tuesday did not contain remarks about the incident, Roque said “probably he has given the necessary orders to the top brass of the AFP (Armed Forces of the Philippines) and PNP (Philippine National Police) and you don’t discuss what you intend to do as far as situation on the ground is publicly.”
Roque said it might be “very difficult” for now to arrange a presidential visit to Jolo.
“Under the circumstance, let’s just say that it’s very difficult not only because of the pandemic but also because of the situation on the ground in Jolo,” he said.
Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana and Philippine National Police chief Police General Archie Gamboa on Tuesday pushed for martial rule in Sulu, with Gamboa arguing that this would allow the military and police “more operational flexibility” to carry out law enforcement operations against threat groups.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said Duterte may declare martial law if it was found that the bombings that killed 15 people and injured over 70 others were an act of rebellion.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson said declaring martial law may not be necessary since the strengthened anti-terror law is already in place.
Mindanao was under martial rule until December 31, 2019, more than two years after Duterte imposed it due to the Marawi siege.
source — RSJ, GMA News