Jolo mayor opposes call for martial law in Sulu after twin bombings

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 28 2020 06:03 PM

The bodies of victims lie on the pavement as police and military personnel cordon off the site where an improvised bomb exploded next to a military vehicle in the town of Jolo in Sulu on Aug. 24, 2020. Nickee Butlangan, AFP

MANILA - Jolo Mayor Kherkar Tan said Friday he was opposed to the declaration of martial law in Sulu in light of the twin bombings that left 15 people dead and at least 75 hurt earlier this week.

In an interview, Tan said martial law is not the solution to terrorism in the area and said the Abu Sayyaf Group - believed to have caused the bombings - may continue their activities even under military rule. 

Philippine Army Chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana and Philippine National Police chief Gen. Archie Gamboa had recommended the implementation of martial law in the entire province of Sulu in the wake of the bombings. Malacañang has said President Rodrigo Duterte would consider the proposal. 

"Ayaw namin mag-martial law kasi parang maliit lang yung mga Abu Sayyaf bakit palakihin natin, parang magiging silang importante. Dapat i-focus na lang ang intelligence para ma-ano, kahit wala siguro kahit mag-martial law tayo ay may bomba din sa cathedral, sa Indanan," Tan said. 

(We don't want to have martial law because the Abu Sayyaf is a small group, if we do that, we give them importance. Just focus on intelligence work and even under martial law, they were able to bomb the cathedral in Indanan.)

Tan was referring to the January 2019 suicide bombing at the cathedral in Indanan town, which left 23 people dead and scores others wounded. 

It happened while martial law was still in effect in all of Mindanao. Duterte had placed the region under military rule from 2017 until the end of the 2019 because of the Marawi siege. 

Jolo was placed on lockdown after two suicide bombers carried out the attack at the town plaza on Monday. The lockdown was lifted Thursday.

The bombers were believed to be widows of Abu Sayyaf members. 

Security has also been tightened, with added police and military personnel patrolling around Jolo. Checkpoint inspections were also tightened. 

Tan added that the suicide bombers may have been arrested if police officers did not gun down 4 military intelligence officers last June. 

-- Report from RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News