Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana on Sunday withdrew his recommendation to declare martial law in Sulu after two deadly suicide blasts in the capital Jolo.

“I am no longer pushing for ML (martial law) declaration over Sulu despite the turmoil as there might be other better options,” Sobejana told PressOne.PH.

“Besides, I always give due respect to the wisdom of our beloved President, the other national leaders and the sentiment of the general public,” he added.

The twin blasts on Aug. 24 killed 14 soldiers and civilians. Sobejana then told reporters the situation “dictated and called for” the imposition of martial law.

The Philippine National Police chief, Gen. Archie Gamboa, also recommended the implementation of martial law.

Sobejana was the Joint Task Force Sulu commander in 2017, when the province, along with the entire Mindanao island group, were placed under martial law.

The army chief on Sunday praised the military’s display of “utmost professionalism and maturity” during the implementation of military rule in Mindanao.

Sobejana noted “substantial gains” in the military’s security efforts, a reduction in kidnap victims from 54 to just three, the neutralization and surrender of Abu Sayyaf leaders and members, and the confiscation of illegal firearms during the Mindanao-wide martial law, which ended on Dec. 31, 2019.

“We remain committed to protect the interest of our Tausug brothers and sisters and the rest of the Filipinos. God bless Sulu and God bless all,” Sobejana said. John Ezekiel J. Hirro