Duterte ‘angered’ by Jolo church bombing

MANILA -- President Rodrigo R. Duterte is “angered” by the twin explosions in a Roman Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu that left at least 20 people dead and 112 others wounded, Malacañang said on Monday.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said that aside from being angered, the President is also “disappointed” that the bombings took place just days after the historic ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) on January 21.

“Well, of course, he (Duterte) was so angry for one. For another, he is so disappointed that despite the movement to thread the path towards peace and development, there are still certain forces in that region who sowed terror and killed and murdered people,” Panelo said in a Palace briefing.

“You know, you don’t even have to ask why he is angry; everybody is angry now for that bombing,” he added, noting that although he has yet to speak with the President himself, sources have told him about the President’s reaction.

Panelo noted that the President has already tasked the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to secure the safety of the citizenry, attend to the injured, and to provide succor to victims’ families.

He refused to comment on suspicions that the attack might be related to the BOL’s recent ratification noting that the President would rather wait for the results of investigation.

“He will wait for the investigation. Of course, one Islamic State is claiming responsibility. I read it in one of the briefers, that one terrorist group is claiming responsibility for that. But we have to wait for the investigation -- who’s behind it and what group or individuals,” Panelo said.

No martial law means chaos

Panelo, meanwhile, defended anew the imposition of martial law in Mindanao in the wake of the deadly twin bombings in Jolo saying that giving in to calls to lift it would mean “chaos.”

“If you can do that under a martial law regime, then the more reason you should maintain it and be more strict in the implementation of security measures in that area,” Panelo said.

“If there was no martial law there, then there would have been chaos and anarchy there. You see how they were able to get Marawi? There was no martial law then,” he added.

He stressed that martial law was “effective” and that the twin explosions were merely isolated cases.

“It’s effective but this incident is isolated, by the way. So, we will have to investigate how it happened,” Panelo said.

“Can you imagine how many bombings there would have been if there was no martial law there in operation?” he added.

Panelo further said government is also investigating possible lapses in security which allowed the incident to occur.

“If you have security there and there is one or two bombs being placed inside, then there must be a lapse in security. There is no other reasonable conclusion,” Panelo said.

Peace prevails

Despite the blasts, Panelo assured that government will continue its efforts to track down the perpetrators and ensure long-lasting peace in Mindanao.

“No amount of terrorism can stop the journey to peace and development in that region,” Panelo said.

“The law will not give them (perpetrators) mercy. We will pursue them to the ends of the earth, until every killer is placed behind bars,” he added.

Panelo also confirmed that the President will be visiting the blast site in Jolo on Monday afternoon.

The bombings took place five days after the plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL, which creates the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

The BOL, which was signed by the President on July 27, 2018, gives the Bangsamoro people more autonomy to govern themselves. (PNA)

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