MALACANANG yesterday ruled out the possibility of expanding martial law to areas outside of Mindanao following the deadly explosions in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City this week.
Presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo said there was no spillover of violence following the attacks that could push the government to extend martial law to other parts of the country.
“There is no necessity for any expansion of martial law, as the President has repeatedly declared,” he told reporters, adding the government “will respond to whatever succeeding events that may happen.”
“We would like to assure the general public that they can go about their normal activity in life. Our country is still a safe haven,” he said.
Mindanao has been under martial rule since May 2017 in response to ISIS-inspired Maute rebels that laid siege to Marawi City and reportedly attempted to establish a caliphate for the terror group.
Initially valid for only 60 days, Congress, upon the request of President Rodrigo Duterte, approved the extension of martial law in the region thrice, and it is due to end on December 31 this year.
The imposition of martial rule, however, did not stop lawless elements from bombing a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo on Sunday, which left 21 people dead and injured some 100 others, and attacking a mosque in Zamboanga City on Wednesday.
“As we have repeatedly said, a determined killer or determined bomber cannot be just stopped by anyone. They will always find ways and means to pursue their goal,” Panelo said.
“But this doesn’t mean we are not doing our job – they are. In fact, the lockdown [in Jolo] is helping. There is a very strict implementation even of curfews that will prevent the occurrence of bombings in that area,” he added.
Panelo viewed the bombing incidents as a “taunting challenge” to the capability of this government to provide safety to residents in Mindanao.
“And so the Armed Forces will unleash its might and weaponry against these mass murderers,” he said.