Duterte to consider proposed Sulu-wide martial law: Palace

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte would take into consideration the state forces’ recommendation to place the entire Sulu province under martial law following the recent deadly twin blasts that rocked its capital town Jolo, Malacañang said on Wednesday. 

President Rodrigo Duterte. (Presidential photo)

This was after Army Chief, Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejena, and Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, sought the implementation of a Sulu-wide martial law.

“The President will of course consider this recommendation,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ The Source. “The recommendations have been made and the President listens to those on the ground.” 

Sobejana and Gamboa recommended the declaration of martial law in Sulu after the twin explosions in Jolo on Monday left at least 15 people, including seven soldiers and a police officer, dead and 77 others wounded.

According to reports, the first explosion happened along Serrantes Street in Walled City village in Jolo at about 11:53 a.m. on Monday, while the second occurred just 100 meters away at about 1:06 p.m.

The attacks were reportedly carried out by two Abu Sayyaf group suicide bombers.

Section 18, Article 7 of the 1987 Constitution states that a president can declare martial law and suspend the writ of habeas corpus for a period not exceeding 60 days, in case of invasion or rebellion.

It also provides that such proclamation of martial law or suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus can either be revoked or extended for a period determined by Congress through joint voting. 

Roque said Duterte needs to be “very careful” in assessing the recommendation because there should be a “legal and factual” basis to declare martial rule in Sulu.

“Although the recommendation has been made, the President has to be very careful that it will pass the scrutiny of the legislative and the judicial branches of government,” he said.

The President, in his public address, which was delivered Monday night but aired on television on Tuesday morning, did not talk about the twin explosions in Jolo, Sulu.

Duterte may have failed to tackle the twin bombings in Jolo but he has already directed the top officials of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP during a joint command conference to take appropriate actions, Roque said.

“The fact that he (Duterte) did not say anything, it’s probably because he has given the necessary orders to the top brass of the AFP and the PNP, and you don’t discuss what you intend to do as far as the situation on the ground is (concerned) publicly,” he said.

Roque, however, said he was not privy to Duterte’s specific orders.

“The command conference was confidential in nature. I was not even allowed to sit through the meeting where he met with (the) top leadership of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police,” he said.

Asked if Duterte would visit Jolo following the incident, Roque said it would be “very difficult” for the President, considering the situation in the province.

He, nevertheless, guaranteed that victims of the twin explosions would receive assistance from the government.

“Under the circumstance, let’s just say that it’s very difficult (for the President to visit Jolo) not only because of the pandemic but also because of the situation in the province,” Roque said. (PNA)

By Ruth Abbey Gita-Carlos  August 26, 2020, 12:01 pm