Palace eyes 3 options for Sulu
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the options being studied by authorities are to impose martial law in the province, carry on its present security measures, or enforce the Anti-Terrorism Law.
AFP/Nickee Butlangan
Palace eyes 3 options for Sulu
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - August 28, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The government is considering three options for Sulu, whose capital town was rocked this week by twin bombings staged by widows of terrorists.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the options being studied by authorities are to impose martial law in the province, carry on its present security measures, or enforce the Anti-Terrorism Law.

“All recommendations are being considered by the President,” he said at a press briefing yesterday. “Let’s wait for the decision regarding the three (options): as is, martial law or Anti-Terror Law. There is no need to perform additional tasks if the Anti-Terror Law is enforced because it’s already a law and we are implementing it.”

Last Monday’s twin explosions in Jolo killed 15 government troops and civilians and injured 78 others. Two suicide bombers who were widows of jihadists were behind the incident, according to military reports.

Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana has recommended placing Sulu under martial law to control the movement of residents, a suggestion that has drawn support of the police. However, some senators said military rule is not necessary because the Anti-Terrorism Law is in place.

The law, which aims to intensify the government’s campaign against terrorists, has been questioned before the Supreme Court by groups who think it would be used to violate human rights.

Among the provisions challenged by the petitioners were those that allow the pre-trial detention of suspected terrorists; enumerate acts of terrorism; punish persons who threaten to commit acts of terrorism; and incite others to commit terrorism through speeches, writings, proclamations, banners or other representations.

Meanwhile, the military tagged an Abu Sayyaf mid-level leader as the mastermind in Monday’s attack.

Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom) chief Lt. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said Mudzrimar Sawadjaan appeared to have orchestrated the terror attack, the second deadliest since the Jan. 27, 2019 twin suicide bombings carried out by an Indonesian couple.

Vinluan pointed out that Monday’s terror attacks were carried out by the widows of first Filipino suicide bomber Norman Lasuca and Abu Sayyaf-Islamic State conduit Talha Jumsah alias Abu Talha.

Sawadjaan, a nephew of Abu Sayyaf leader Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan, is the designated local head of the Islamic State. He is a bomb expert and is believed to be behind the training of suicide bombers.

According to Vinluan, ground forces have launched a massive operation for his capture or neutralization to prevent further bombing attacks in Jolo and other vulnerable targets in the province.

He also said that Sulu Gov. Abdusakur Tan Sr. and local leaders have agreed to closely coordinate on monitoring the movement of suspected terrorists and prevent further suicide bombing attacks.

The close cooperation was agreed on after the provincial government and local government units rejected calls to reinstate martial law in the island province. – Roel Pareño, Evelyn Macairan, Emmanuel Tupas

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ANTI TERROR LAW
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