Jolo bombing can be solved without martial law – CHR
MANILA, Philippines — The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) has maintained that the latest bombings in Jolo could be solved through greater cooperation among government agencies, and without placing the area under martial law.
CHR spokesperson Jacqueline de Guia reminded officials on Wednesday, amid suggestions that Jolo or the whole Sulu could be placed under military rule, that the 1987 Constitution only allows martial law imposition for extraordinary circumstances.
She further stated that martial law should not be normalized as an automatic and impulsive response to security threats.
“Martial law remains to be an extraordinary measure reserved for extraordinary circumstances under the 1987 Constitution. Time and again, the Commission on Human Rights have constantly advised the government against the normalization of martial law as a default response to threats to national safety,” De Guia said in a statement on Wednesday.
“We continue to condemn terroristic acts and its horrors, especially to innocent, unsuspecting victims. At the same time, we have also repeatedly expressed confidence in our security forces in addressing terrorism within the ambit of their regular powers and those granted upon them by current laws,” she added.
After two bombs were set off by suicide bombers in Jolo’s Barangay Walled City — claiming at least 11 lives including several military officers and other civilians — the Army suggested placing martial law over the said city.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) supported such proposals, but senators believe that such a response is not needed. According to Article VII, Section 18, martial law may be declared to suppress lawless violence, invasion, or rebellion for a period of 60 days.
It may either be revoked or extended further by Congress — just like the martial law rule in Marawi before.
Earlier, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte is considering such proposals.
CHR said that greater collaboration between the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and the PNP could be a major factor in preventing such terrorist acts.
“In this case, greater collaboration between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Philippine National Police might be the key in preventing future attacks, as well as in making perpetrators accountable for their crimes,” De Guia said.
Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana recently revealed that the two female suicide bombers behind the explosion in Barangay Walled City in Jolo were the bombers being tracked by four military intelligence operatives.
The military lost track of the suicide bombers because the four military officers were gunned down by police officers in a controversial incident last June 29. Army officials called the attack against intel operators a murder, but police insisted it was a shootout.
In a Senate hearing on Monday, AFP Western Mindanao Command chief Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr. said that it is possible that the people behind the killing of the intel operatives may be related to the suicide bombers.
Vinluan said that because the military cannot pinpoint back then the location of the suicide bombers, he decided to intentionally compromise the covert operations by surfacing and instead of asking local officials from the city government, to the barangay, and even the police about the targets’ whereabouts.
“Should the government decide to proceed with such proposal, we hope that declaration of martial law will be guided with [the necessity and proportionality of the principles] of the threat identified; limited to an area where it is needed, such as Sulu; and with full respect for human rights as the basis for protecting the people against the harms of unpeace and armed conflicts,” De Guia noted. [ac]
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