Jolo, Zamboanga blasts 'not a reason for nationwide martial law'

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THE recent bombings in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City in besieged Mindanao would not prompt President Rodrigo Duterte to expand the coverage of martial law declaration to Luzon and Visayas, Malacañang assured on Thursday, January 31.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said it was not necessary to call for the expansion of martial law, since there was no "spillover" of terrorism into other parts of Mindanao and the rest of the country.

"There is no necessity for any expansion of martial law, as the President has repeatedly declared," Panelo said in an interview with Palace reporters.

"There is no spillover [of terror threats]... We would like to assure the general public that they can go about their normal activity in life. Our country is still a safe haven," he added.

Panelo gave the assurance following the recent twin bombings in a Catholic cathedral in Jolo and a grenade attack in a mosque in Zamboanga City.

Martial law in Mindanao has been extended for three times and will expire on December 31, 2019.

Duterte first placed war-torn Mindanao under martial rule on May 23, 2017, following the siege of Islamic State-linked Maute terror group.

On Wednesday, January 30, Commission on Human Rights spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia said the Jolo and Zamboanga blasts should not be a basis for the declaration of nationwide martial law.

De Guia said the recent bombings "should not, in any way, be construed as a reason for a nationwide imposition of martial law."

Panelo assured the public that the government would not allow "barbaric" acts of terror groups to spread from other parts of the country.

"Well, if there was no martial law there [in Mindanao], I'm certain it will not only be one or two. As what happened during the Marawi incident, there was no martial law. And look what they did to Marawi. They destroyed an entire city. But after martial law was declared, these are isolated incidents," he said.

"The government will respond to whatever succeeding events that may happen. But we're ready for any eventuality in that area," the presidential spokesperson added.

Panelo also noted that there was offer from other countries like the United States, China, Russia, Canada, and the United Kingdom to help the Duterte government in combating terrorism.

He, however, could not elaborate on the support the Philippines might get from other countries.

"[It might be] weapons for instance, intelligence. Oh, 'di kung 'yun ang ibibigay sa atin (If they give such), we will welcome it. Anything that can stop terrorism in this country, we will welcome, in the same way that other countries will welcome such offer or assistance," Panelo said. (SunStar Philippines)


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