Philippine National Police

PNP backs Sulu-wide martial law

Rambo Talabong

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PNP backs Sulu-wide martial law

Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs: Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Gen. Archie Gamboa takes his oath before the Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs looking into the fatal shooting of four soldiers allegedly by PNP personnel in Sulu during Wednesday's hybrid hearing, August 19, 2020. (Joseph Vidal/ Senate PRIB)

Martial law will lend state security forces 'more operational flexibility,' says Philippine National Police chief General Archie Gamboa

The Philippine National Police (PNP) expressed support on Tuesday, August 25, for the declaration of martial law in Sulu after the twin Jolo explosions that killed at least 14 and injured at least 75.

“This will allow the military and police more operational flexibility to carry out law enforcement operations against domestic threat groups in the area,” PNP chief General Archie Gamboa said in a statement.

Gamboa backed the statement of Philippine Army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana, who recommended the extreme measure earlier on Tuesday, explaining that it would make it easier for them to “control the population.”

As with Sobejana, Gamboa did not say how long he believes martial law should be declared in the province.

Sobejana’s recommendation earlier faced opposition from Senate President Vicente “Tito” Sotto III and Senator Panfilo Lacson. (READ: EXPLAINER: Comparing dangers in old law and anti-terror bill)

“No need [for martial law in Sulu]. Anti terror law is already in place. That was one of the reasons we passed it, we are hoping it will solve the terrorism in Mindanao,” Sotto said.

Lacson echoed Sotto’s message, saying: “We have passed a strong Anti-Terrorism Law for our security forces to better address terrorism in Mindanao and the rest of the country…With all that said, another declaration of martial law in Mindanao or Sulu may not be necessary.”

The controversial law allows for the detention of suspected terrorists for up to 24 days without arrest warrants. That time for detention, state security forces previously argued, would be enough to build a case against suspected terrorists to seal convictions and deter terrorism. –

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Rambo Talabong

Rambo Talabong covers the House of Representatives and local governments for Rappler. Prior to this, he covered security and crime. He was named Jaime V. Ongpin Fellow in 2019 for his reporting on President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. In 2021, he was selected as a journalism fellow by the Fellowships at Auschwitz for the Study of Professional Ethics.