Lorenzana sees no need for martial law in Sulu in wake of suicide bombings
MANILA, Philippines—Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said he does not see the need to declare martial law in Sulu after Monday’s suicide bombings there, which left 15 people killed and 74 others wounded.
“No need. We have the anti-terror law and Proclamation 55 dated 4 Sep 2016 putting the whole of Mindanao under state of lawlessness,” he told INQUIRER.net on Wednesday (Aug. 26).
“This proclamation has not been lifted yet,” he said.
The widely criticized anti-terror law took effect on July 18 after being signed by President Rodrigo Duterte last July 3.
Critics said the law could be used to curb free speech. It also became controversial for allowing the warrantless arrest of terror suspects and their detention for up to 24 days without charges.
Duterte’s Proclamation No, 55, which declared a national state of emergency, was issued two days after the bombing of a night market in Davao City, the President’s hometown, that killed 14 people and wounded dozens of others.
Martial law had been lifted in Mindanao, which included Sulu, at the end of 2019, after it was imposed in May 2017 to flush out Islamic State (IS) followers led by the Maute Group that wanted to turn Marawi City into an IS caliphate. Martial law was initially set for 60 days but it was extended several times.
Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana said on Tuesday (Aug. 24) that he was recommending to the President the return of martial law in Sulu to track down the movement of terrorist group Abu Sayyaf more effectively. The recommendation was supported by the Philippine National Police.
But the call for martial law in Sulu, considered as a turf of Abu Sayyaf and Moro leader Nur Misuari, was rejected by some senators, including the chief proponent of the new anti-terror law.
“We have passed a strong anti-terrorism law for our security forces to better address terrorism in Mindanao and the rest of the country,” said Sen. Panfilo Lacson, chief author of the terror law and former PNP chief.
“With all that said, another declaration of martial law in Mindanao or Sulu may not be necessary,” Lacson said.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said martial law was unnecessary because the anti-terror law is now in effect.
“That was one of the reasons we passed it, we are hoping it will solve the terrorism in Mindanao,” said Sotto.
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