Sulu needs economic aid, not martial law – WestMinCom chief

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Western Mindanao Command (WestMinCom) chief Major General Corleto Vinluan Jr. does not support the idea of declaring martial in province following the two explosions that killed 15 people in Jolo on Monday.

Vinluan said in an interview that preventing and fighting terrorism in Sulu is a “shared responsibility.”

“Actually during our meeting, presided by the governor with the attendance of municipal mayors and other stakeholders, I emphasized that with the active participation of local officials, down to barangay level including civilians, we no longer need the declaration of martial law,” Vinluan told ANC.

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Vinluan also believes that the number of security forces in the province is enough to prevent terrorist attacks.

“For now ang kailangan namin dito is ‘yung economic package para sa civilians dito, but for the military presence, I think law enforcers here are enough to go after the ASG,” Vinluan added.

Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana suggested enforcing martial law in province following the two explosions.

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The Philippine National Police also supported Sobejana’s recommendation.

Martial law in Sulu

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, meanwhile, said President Rodrigo Duterte would study the Philippine Army’s recommendation to declare martial law in  province.

Vinluan, however, clarified that they are not neglecting the possibility that lawless elements would again attack the province. The military continues to go after Mundi Sawadjaan, the nephew of ISIS emir to the Philippines Hatib Hajan Sawadjaan.

Vinluan also admitted they need assistance from other countries, such as the United States, to catch the terrorists.

“Of course we need the support of US and other countries in locating the whereabouts of other elements of terrorist group here in Sulu. They are helping us,” Vinluan said.

“Mali naman sabihin namin na hindi namin sila kailangan because their role is very important in locating the ASG members,” he added.

The WestMinCom chief earlier said four potential suicide bombers, who are all Indonesian women, are still in Mindanao.

He said the female bombers were children of the couple responsible for the Jolo Cathedral bombing in early 2019.

The twin bomb attack on a Sunday Mass at Jolo Cathedral on Sulu Island has killed at least 20 people and injured dozens more.

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