Digong weighs martial law call
Won’t rush declaring it in Sulu amid terror attacks
DAVAO CITY―President Rodrigo Duterte said he must carefully consider a call for him to declare martial law in Sulu after a series of terrorist attacks in the area.
“I need time to ponder on it deeply... [as] it is not only a political decision, [but] an emotional decision,” Duterte said when asked about the call of the grassroots group Save Sulu Movement to declare martial law in six municipalities due to a series of atrocities by the Abu Sayyaf Group.
Save Sulu Movement spokesman Octavio A. Dinampo tagged the six municipalities―Patikul, Indanan, Parang, Maimbung, Talipao, and Kalingalan Caluang―as the center of terrorism in Sulu.
But Duterte said that if he declares martial law, it will not only be to solve the rebellion in Mindanao, but everything that ails the island.
Duterte recalled that he already issued a warning months ago to terrorists not to force his hand to declare martial law after he received reports that a bomb was thrown at a school and several improvised explosive devices were planted in different areas of Sulu.
The Maute Group, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters and other Islamic State sympathizers in Mindanao have also launched attacks.
Eight months ago, Duterte declared the entire country under a state of lawlessness after the Sept. 2 bombing in his hometown that killed 15 civilians.
At the same time, Duterte said he is considering extending the grant of liberty to Moro National Liberation Front leader Nur Misuari, who still faces charges for the Zamboanga siege of 2013.
“In the name of peace, I can wait. I will not be imposing timelines,” he said.
when asked if he will extend the liberty grant of Misuari.
Seven months ago, Duterte gave a grant of liberty to Misuari to include the MNLF in the ongoing talks to create the Bangsamoro Basic Law.
Also on Tuesday, a member of the Bohol provincial board denied rumors that the civilian who tipped off the government about the whereabouts of Abu Sayyaf bandits who attacked the province in April received only P450,000 of the P1-million reward money offered by Duterte.
Board member Ricky Masamayor said the civilian from Clarin town, was instrumental in the neutralization of three more Abu bandits in Bacani town and received the reward money through the military’s Central Command led by Lt. Gen. Oscar Lactao.
He said the provincial government added P100,000 to the reward.
A handwritten document circulating in social media claiming to come from the informant said he received only P450,000.
But Masamayor questioned the veracity of the document and defended the military and police. He also condemned the media spin, calling it an example of “crab mentality.”
In Cotabato City, some 300 Muslim scholars from all over the country said the threat of violent extremism and terrorism was not solely the problem and responsibility of the government and political leaders, but of religious leaders as well, because terrorists misrepresent and misuse Islam to justify their wrongdoings.
At the end of a three-day Ulama Summit Against Tourism, the scholars said such misrepresentation tarnished the image of Islam and Muslims.
“If violent extremists and terrorists are brave enough to do evil, we must be braver to do good to prevent and counter them,” the scholars said in a statement released Monday.
Alih Sakaluran Aiyub, associate professor at the Western Mindanao State University and a member of the Summit Secretariat, urged Muslim communities, the security forces and the local government units to protect relitious leaders from the terror threat.
“We are calling upon our people, security sector and LGUs to protect our Ulama since terrorists have threatened them in their statement to the media, before the start of ARMM Ulama Summit Against Terrorism,” Sakaluran posted on his FB account.
A group called Dawla Islamiya, which has ostensibly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, issued a statement warning Muslim scholars to stay away from the event.
“To those who have Ulama relatives, warn your parents, brothers and children not to attend the said summit because if something happens to them along the way or in the end, don’t tell us you were not warned,” the Dawla Islamiya statement said. With Florante S. Solmerin and Nash B. Maulana