There could be more bombings if no martial law in Mindanao, says Malacanang
There could have been more bombings in Mindanao if there is no martial law in the region, Malacanang said on Thursday.
In a press briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo added there is no need to expand the coverage of martial law since there is no "spillover" of the incidents in other parts of the country.
"Well, if there was no martial law there, I’m certain it will not only be one or two," he said.
Twin explosions ripped a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on January 27, killing over 20 people and injuring more than a hundred others.
Three days after the Jolo blasts, a grenade was lobbed by unidentified suspects inside a mosque in Zamboanga City, leaving two people dead and four wounded.
Panelo noted that because there was no martial law in Mindanao prior to the 2017 Marawi siege, the terrorists were able to attack the city.
"But after martial law was declared, these (recent bombings) are isolated incidents," he said.
Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law on May 23, 2017 after the Islamic State-linked Maute terrorists attacked Marawi. The siege took place for about five months but martial law has been extended until the end of this year.
Asked if there is a need to expand martial law to avoid a spillover of the bombing incidents, Panelo said, "There is no spillover. It’s still there. The government will respond to whatever succeeding events that may happen. But we’re ready for any eventuality in that area."
Panelo downplayed the Commission on Elections' warning that fewer voters might show up during the February plebiscite on the Bangsamoro Organic Law in some parts of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato.
He said the Comelec has no capability of determining on whether the bombings could affect the voters' turnout.
"It’s only the Armed Forces of the Philippines who can say whether it will affect or not because it’s them that secure the area," he said.
Panelo expressed belief that the residents in Mindanao are returning to their normal activities.
But he added, "They are just alert now and vigilant and cautious but they will vote."
A plebiscite for the ratification of the BOL was first held on January 21 in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Cotabato City, and Isabela City.
"You must remember that the plebiscite was overwhelming in participation ? 85 percent," Panelo said. Celerina Monte/DMS