Duterte visits Jolo, condoles with victims of twin blasts

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 30) — President Rodrigo Duterte visited Jolo on Sunday and condoled with victims of the twin blasts that rocked the area last week, his spokesperson confirmed.

In a message to reporters, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that apart from meeting with the victims, the President also met with Mayor Kherkar Tan, although Roque did not disclose what the meeting was about.

After the visit, the President flew back to Manila.

Duterte announced his visit during an online concert on Sunday afteroon, saying it was to fulfill his “duty as commander-in-chief” of the country.

“I’m going to Jolo. Diretso ako ngayon sa Jolo, doon sa blast site,” Duterte said in a message during the “Singing For the President” concert— a virtual musical event organized for him.

Mabigyan ko lang ‘yung mga sundalo natin, sundalo ko, pulis ko, ng importansya sa kanilang kamatayan,” he added.

[Translation: I’m going to Jolo. I’ll go directly to Jolo, there in the blast site. I want to give my soldiers, my police importance amid their passing.]

The August 24 twin explosions in Jolo have left at least 15 people dead, including soldiers and civilians, and dozens others injured. Cash rewards of up to ₱6-million have been raised for anyone who can help in the hunt for the alleged mastermind as well as a major suspect in the blasts.

Jolo was placed under temporary lockdown starting 8 a.m. on Sunday until further notice, the municipal government earlier said.

Malacañang previously said the chief executive will consider the possibility of placing the whole province of Sulu under martial law, following some officials’ call for the stricter rule in the area. The leadership of the Philippine Army, however, withdrew the recommendation, saying “there might be better options” to address the current threats.