Army chief wants martial law in Sulu

Michael Punongbayan - The Philippine Star
Army chief wants martial law in Sulu
Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said he would make a formal recommendation to Armed Forces of the Philippines chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.
pna.gov.ph / Philippine Army photo

MANILA, Philippines — Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana wants the province of Sulu placed under martial law following Monday’s twin explosions in Jolo allegedly carried out by suicide bombers of the Abu Sayyaf group.

Sobejana said he would make a formal recommendation to Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Gilbert Gapay and Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana.

“Yes, the situation dictates, calls for (martial law). With that recent incident, with so many casualties. To better control the population, I think it is wise to declare it again,” Sobejana said yesterday.

He said martial law would help bring back normalcy and help control the movement of people.

Sobejana said the situation would dictate how long Sulu should be under martial law, noting his recommendations would have to go through Gapay and Lorenzana before reaching President Duterte.

Asked if more troops would be sent to Sulu following the terror attacks, he said they have yet to discuss it and that the Army can send more soldiers to the province.

Meanwhile, the Philippine National Police (PNP) yesterday mobilized its security forces against the Abu Sayyaf bandits believed responsible for the bombings.

PNP chief Gen. Archie Francisco Gamboa has directed the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region police to intensify intelligence and law enforcement operations in coordination with the AFP.

Gamboa instructed police units in Sulu to intensify checkpoint and visibility patrols to restrict movements of terrorists.

He urged people with information on the suspects’ identities and whereabouts to report to authorities to prevent more acts of terrorism.

The military earlier said one of the two bombings was perpetrated by a female suicide bomber.

Fourteen persons including six soldiers and a police officer were killed in the explosions in Barangay Walled City.

Six police officers, 18 soldiers and 48 civilians were wounded in the incidents.

Gamboa identified the slain police officer as Senior Master Sargeant Joe Michael Langibs of the elite Special Action Force.

CHR probes bombing

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) will conduct a separate investigation on last Monday’s twin explosions in Jolo.

CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia yesterday said the investigation, which aims to aid in pursuing justice for the victims, would be conducted by its regional office based in Zamboanga.

The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, to which Sulu belongs, has a separate Human Rights Commission that is autonomous from the CHR.

It has yet to issue a statement on the incident.

De Guia condemned the attacks, saying no one should be made to suffer from such “cruel and inhuman” violence.

She urged the government to investigate the incident and make the perpetrators accountable for the crime.

De Guia said the incident happened as the country observes the International Humanitarian Law Month.

“The CHR continues to denounce the reprehensible harm caused by terrorism and every intent of terrorists to sow nothing but fear and conflict, especially at a time when the country is in the midst of a pandemic,” she said.

In time with the International Day of Remembrance and Tribute to the Victims of Terrorism last week, the CHR reiterated its condemnation of all forms of terrorism and actions meant to sow discord and instill fear and disruption in the daily lives of individuals.

The commission also noted the role of the government in supporting victims of terrorism and their families, such as those displaced by the Marawi crisis three years ago.

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