MORE reason for martial rule, Malacañang yesterday said as it slammed critics’ claims of an “ineffective martial law” in Mindanao.
This comes in the wake of the twin bomb blasts that rocked a Catholic cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday morning.
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo told Palace reporters in his regular briefing yesterday that the incident should serve as “more reason” for martial rule to be imposed in the region.
“They’re saying that despite martial law, there has been bombing, and therefore martial law should be lifted. There’s more reason that martial law should be in place,” he said. “The fact alone that there’s one incident of bombing in the past year, that means martial law is effective. Can you imagine how many bombings there would have been if there was no martial law there in operation?”
In a joint session on December 12, 2018, Congress approved President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in the South for the third time. Lawmakers voted 235-28 to extend the rule until the end of 2019.
At least 20 people were killed, while over a hundred others were injured when two bombs exploded within seconds at the cathedral in Jolo.
The blast came two days after the Commission on Elections proclaimed the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law, which would eventually create a new Muslim autonomous region.
Panelo also cited the “lapses” on the part of security forces in Jolo.
He questioned how the bombs were placed inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
“There may be some lapses in security, how they were able to put (bombs) there despite the fact that there were soldiers securing the place,” he said.
“There is no other conclusion to reach. If you have security there, and if there was one or two bombs being placed inside, then there must be a lapse in security,” he added.
Security officials are looking into the possible involvement of a group identified with the Abu Sayyaf called Ajang Ajang.
Panelo said President Rodrigo Duterte has expressed anger and disappointment over the bombing. He said the President has issued a directive for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to further tighten security measures.
While some Islamic groups claimed responsibility for the bombing, Panelo said the Palace will wait for authorities’ official investigation.
The Philippine National Police and the AFP are now on “nationwide” heightened alert following the blasts.