Duterte to consider recommendation for Sulu-wide martial law after deadly blasts — Palace

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 26)— President Rodrigo Duterte will consider authorities’ recommendation to place Sulu province under martial law following the twin blasts that rocked Jolo earlier this week, Malacañang said Wednesday.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque stressed Duterte continues to listen to his on-ground personnel. However, he noted the recommendation still has to “pass the scrutiny” of both the legislative and judiciary branches.

“Well the President will of course consider this recommendation as will both Congress and the Supreme Court,” Roque said in an interview with The Source.

“There will have to be notice given to Congress. And Congress will have to be satisfied with both the legal and factual basis for the declaration. And this is without prejudice to the judicial review on both the factual and legal considerations for the imposition of martial law,” he explained.

Both the Philippine National Police and the Army have expressed support for the declaration of a Sulu-wide martial rule— following Monday’s twin explosions in Jolo town that left at least 15 people dead, including soldiers and civilians, and 74 others injured.

Some lawmakers, however, were quick to reject the idea, as they cited the passage of a “strong” anti-terrorism law in the country.

Senators Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Panfilo “Ping” Lacson earlier noted there may be no need to place the province under martial law, as the Anti-Terorrism Act of 2020— signed in early July— will already let local security forces address the situation in the area.

The whole of Mindanao was first placed under martial law in May 2017, following the Marawi siege in Lanao del Sur. Congress had then granted Duterte's subsequent requests to extend martial law in the area to quell insurgent forces, with the rule finally expiring on December 31, 2019.

Meanwhile, Roque said it may be difficult for the chief executive to visit Jolo at this time— due to the situation on the ground on top of the current virus pandemic.