Martial law in Mindanao effective? Only 'speculative,' Pangilinan says

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Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan says there is no proof has been presented to show that martial law in Mindanao has been effective.

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, January 30) — Senator Francis "Kiko" Pangilinan said no proof has been presented to show that martial law in Mindanao has been effective, countering Malacañang's assertion that it played a hand in preventing more bombings in the southern Philippines.

"I don't know where the data is, because we have to look at that, because apparently there is martial law, but at the time nung walang martial law hindi naman nangyayari 'yung pambobomba ng mga simbahan," Pangilinan told CNN Philippines' The Source on Wednesday.

The Liberal Party president said this in the wake of twin blasts in a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, last Sunday, which killed at least 21, and a grenade explosion at a mosque in Zamboanga City Wednesday midnight, which killed two.

Malacañang earlier said the Jolo blast is "more reason" for the continued implementation of martial law in Mindanao, which has been hoisted in the region since May 23, 2017.

Speaking to The Source on Tuesday, Acting Sulu 1st District Rep. Jericho Nograles said without martial law, security measures around the cathedral could not have been implemented five months ago, when it first received terror threats.

But Pangilinan dismissed these statements as "speculative."

During oral arguments Tuesday at the Supreme Court on petitions challenging the third extension of martial law in Mindanao, Solicitor General Jose Calida used the Jolo bombing to justify the need for its continued implementation in the region.

READ: AFP chief to recommend lifting martial law in Mindanao once rebel forces are reduced

Congress has thrice granted President Rodrigo Duterte's request for the extension of martial law in Mindanao, extending it beyond the maximum 60-day period provided in the Constitution to last until the end of 2017, then extending it further to the end of 2018 and then the end of 2019.

Since the declaration of martial law in Mindanao following the siege of Marawi City by ISIS-inspired belligerents, bombings have occurred in Basilan, Sultan Kudarat and North Cotabato, in addition to Sulu and Zamboanga City.

However, during that time, the military has also thwarted a bombing attempt in North Cotabato in August 2018 and disabled a grenade in Cotabato City just minutes before polling precincts opened for the plebiscite for the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL).

Pangilinan suspects that the people behind the blasts in Jolo and Zamboanga City want to derail the implementation of the BOL, which was ratified by the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao and Cotabato City last week.

"The enemies of peace would not want to see a progressive development in the area and therefore are doing what they can to sabotage the process," Pangilinan said.


He also warned that the peace process should work, or there would be more radicalized terrorist elements.

Authorities say the Jolo blasts have nothing to do with the BOL, while they are still determining if the Zamboanga mosque bombing is connected with the bombing of the cathedral.