Duterte to consider recommended Sulu-wide martial law —Palace

Aileen Cerrudo   •   August 26, 2020   •   627

President Rodrigo Duterte is considering the recommendation of the Philippine Army to put Sulu under martial law after the recent twin blasts in Jolo, Malacañang said.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President is awaiting the official report and request of the police and military.

Aside from the Philippine Army, the Philippine National Police (PNP) also supports the idea of putting the province under martial law.

However, Roque said the decision to reimpose martial law in Sulu needs further study and the approval of both the legislative and judicial branches of government before it can be implemented.

“Iyan naman po ay kinukunsidera ng ating Presidente, subject siyempre doon sa legal and factual basis. So, kapag ang report naman ay nagtugma na sapat na dahilan ito sa martial law, ikukunsidera naman po iyan ng Preisdente, (That is what the President is taking into consideration, of course it will be subject to legal and factual basis. So if the report is verified and there is a reason to declare martial law, it will be considered by the President),” he said.

The twin explosions in Jolo on Monday (August 24) left at least 15 people dead with 77 injured. Among those killed were seven soldiers and a police officer. AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

‘We’re fine’: Roque says after Locsin’s ‘drop the subject’ tweet

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2021

 

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said he is still on good terms with Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. after the latter called out his recent remarks on the Julian Felipe Reef.

“I have talked to SFA (Secretary of Foreign Affairs) and we are fine,” Roque said in a message when asked for a reaction on Locsin’s comments.

The DFA chief earlier insisted that he was the only one who can speak when it comes to foreign affairs.

“This is my last warning. When it comes to foreign affairs, the Department of Foreign Affairs has the exclusive remit. I don’t come from diplomacy; I come from a life that settled the hash of a lotta people who talked tough and ended up biting dirt. I don’t talk, I deal,” he tweeted.

He also urged his fellow government officials to lay off the issue on the West Philippine Sea and leave it to his department.

“What can we do? Let’s try this: drop the subject and leave it entirely to the Department of Foreign Affairs under ME, the only expert on the subject bar none. I’ve known China since 1967; Chito Sta. Romana along with me. Even the military has nothing to do with foreign affairs,” he said.

Locsin made the comment after Roque claimed on Tuesday that the Philippines was “never in possession” of the Julian Felipe Reef, where Chinese vessels were spotted since March.

“All we’re saying is we were never in possession of that area and we’re making a big thing out of the fact that that area naman in the first place was never under our possession… ni hindi po iyan kabahagi ng ating EEZ (exclusive economic zone) iyong Julian Felipe. Labas po iyan, ganiyan po kalayo iyan,” he said during his regular press briefing.

In a statement he issued later, Roque stressed that the Philippines will not abandon its claims on the Julian Felipe Reef.

“Pero it doesn’t weaken anything kasi hindi naman natin gini-give-up iyong claim natin to Julian Felipe pursuant to Marcos appending Julian Felipe into the territory of the Philippines. That is our evidence of effective occupation,” he said. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Rosalie Coz)

Duterte won’t debate with Carpio; taps spox Roque for face-off on WPS issue

Robie de Guzman   •   May 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte will not face retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio in a debate on the issues about the West Philippine Sea, Malacañang said Friday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the chief executive made the decision after several Cabinet members and two senators advised him not to square off with Carpio as this might compromise national policies and confidential information.

Roque, a lawyer, said the president has delegated to him the task of debating with Carpio on the issue.

“Ang sabi po ni Presidente, kung papayag si Antonio Carpio, tuloy ang debate dahil importante naman na marinig ang mga ideya para ang mga taong bayan ay makagawa ng konklusyon,” Roque said in an announcement over state-run PTV.

“Ang sabi po ni President, itinatalaga niya po ang inyong abang lingkod na makipag-debate kay retired justice Antonio Carpio,” he added.

 Roque said he has accepted Duterte’s directive.

“Sabihin lang po ng Philippine Bar Association kung saan at kailan ang debate at sisipot po tayo roon,” he said.

Duterte on Wednesday dared Carpio to go on a debate on the West Philippine Sea issue. He said he would ask Carpio on who ordered the Philippine Navy to retreat from the area during the 2012 standoff; what the administration of then President Benigno Aquino did about it; and if they enforced the ruling when they filed and won the case.

Carpio accepted Duterte’s dare but he denied involvement in the issue of China’s occupation of some areas in the contested waters.

“Totoo po hinamon po ni Presidente si justice Carpio sa isang debate pero ang pagdedebate po ay dalawang bagay, di ba po? Sino ba ang responsable sa pagkawala ng Scarborough Shoal?” Roque said.

“Ang subject matter po ng debate ay sino at anong administrasyon ang naging dahilan kung kailan nawala sa Pilipinas ang possession sa Scarborough Shoal,” he further stated.

Roque also said that he would also ask Carpio during the debate on who was responsible and under what administration did the Philippines lost possession of the Mischief Reef.

“Retired Supreme Court Justice Antonio Carpio, it would be a pleasure to debate against you. I’ll see you at the designated time and place,” he said, addressing Carpio.

Terror threats in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi declined in past 2 years – WestMinCom

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines — The number of terrorist threats observed in the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi in Mindanao have significantly dropped in the last two years, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan Jr. said.

Data from the military’s Joint Task Force (JTF) Sulu showed that from July 1, 2020 to May 2, 2021, the force had 38 encounters with Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) and has neutralized 260 of its members; 34 of which were killed, 42 apprehended, and 184 surrendered.

In the first quarter of 2021, JTF Sulu said ASG now only have 132 of its manpower compared to its 282 and 145 members in 2019 and 2020, respectively.

The military also observed a significant decrease in ASG’s firearms this year with only 147 left when it used to possess 330 weapons in 2019 and 155 in 2020.

The JTF Sulu further said that there was also no recorded terrorist acts perpetrated by the local group this year, noting that their last attack was the two explosions in Brgy. Walled City in Jolo, Sulu on August 24 last year.

According to JTF Sulu, it is its mission to conduct military operation to defeat ASG, and support the government peace process with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) in order to “significantly contribute to the peace, security, and development efforts of the Government in Sulu province.”

“Military action is only a small factor in combatting terrorism, the major factor here is the assistance (from the Bangsamoro Government),” Vinluan was quoted as saying in a statement released by the Bangsamoro government.

“We need your help to finally end the conflict in Sulu,” he added.

For his part, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) Chief Minister Ebrahim said the interim Bangsamoro Government has been put to place to assure that the people gets its well-deserved peace and sustainable development after years of conflict and unrest.

“When we signed the peace agreement with the national government, we knew that this transition period would not be an easy track. We also acknowledge that there are still splinter groups and extremist organizations that would provide challenges in the process,” Ebrahim said.

“We are fortunate that in this journey, we have our dear partners from the security sector to help us out in maintaining order. Troops whom we once faced at the other side of the fence – now working with us, side by side, one in building a Bangsamoro that we can be proud of,” he added.

Vinluan and the JTF Sulu commanders paid courtesy visit to Ebrahim and other BARMM officials on Monday, May 3, at the Bangsamoro Government Center in Cotabato City.

The visit was particularly aimed at providing the BARMM government an update regarding the security situation and development challenges in the province of Sulu, a stronghold of local terrorist ASG.

 

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