SINGING FOR THE PRESIDENT. President Rodrigo Duterte briefly appears in a virtual concert held for him hosted by singer Jimmy Bondoc (green shirt) and writer-director and singer-songwriter Njel de Mesa (white shirt) on Sunday (Aug. 30, 2020). Duterte said he will visit victims of the twin blasts that rocked Jolo, Sulu last Sunday. (Screenshot from Sing Out by the South)

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte on Sunday will be visiting Jolo, Sulu to inspect the site where the twin blasts took place. 

Duterte himself made this announcement in a short video call with singer Jimmy Bondoc and writer-director and singer-songwriter Njel de Mesa during the “Singing for the President” virtual concert.

Bondoc, staunch supporter of the President, is also vice president for Corporate Social Responsibility of the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation (Pagcor).

“I’m going to Jolo. Diretso ako ngayon sa Jolo, doon sa blast site. Mabigyan ko lang ang mga sundalo natin, mga sundalo ko, mga pulis ko ng importansya sa kanilang kamatayan (I’m going straight to Jolo, there in the blast site. I want to honor the deaths of our soldiers and police),” Duterte told them.

During the video call, Duterte said he was about to leave for Jolo, Sulu to “fulfill” his duties as commander-in-chief.

He, however, said he would not be able to watch the virtual concert since he would be travelling via plane.

“Magti-take off kami. Tamang-tama. Eh kaso lang sa ere walang ano, hindi niyo ako mapanood (We’re going to take off. But I can’t watch you up in the air),” he added.

Duterte thanked the performers who have and will be serenading him until the evening and expressed hope he would have a chance to share a meal with them when the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) situation improves.

“Maraming-maraming salamat sa inyo at (Thank you very much and) I hope to see you one of these days sa aking bahay (in my house). Mag salu-salo tayo ng maruya pati soft drinks (Let’s have maruya and soft drinks). One of these days after perhaps Covid,” he said.

Duterte said he owed the performers a debt of gratitude and that he would remember them as friends and supporters for all time.

Local artists including Freddie Aguilar, Anthony Castelo, Raffy Buenavides, Giselle Sanchez, Cesar Montano, among others volunteered to serenade the President.

Current and past appointees of the Duterte administration were also listed as performers such as Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, Overseas Workers Welfare Administration Deputy Administrator Mocha Uson, former OWWA Deputy Administrator Arnell Ignacio, former Tourism Undersecretary Kat De Castro among others.

The virtual concert, which started streaming at 2 p.m., has reached nearly 7,000 views.

Meanwhile, Duterte also expressed hope that a Covid-19 vaccine would be available in time for the Christmas season.

“With the grace of God, baka December magkaroon na tayo ng bakuna at mailigtas ang Pilipinas sa marahas na sakit na ito (maybe by December, we will have a vaccine and the Philippines will be saved from the wrath of this disease),” he said.

On Thursday, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the President will consider three options to address terrorism in Mindanao in wake of the deadly twin blasts which killed 17 people and injured 75 others in Jolo, Sulu.

“So abangan na lang po natin kung ano ang desisyon pero dalawang pong alternatibo—o tatlo ‘no: as is, martial law or iyong Anti-Terror law (Let’s just wait for his decision but he has two alternatives or three: as is, martial law, or the Anti-Terror law),” Roque said.

While Duterte would take into consideration the state forces’ recommendation to place the entire Sulu province under martial law, Roque said he needs to be “very careful” in assessing the recommendation because there should be a “legal and factual” to do so.

Roque also noted that the President can decide to implement the Anti-Terrorism law to address terrorism.

Reports showed that the first explosion happened along Serrantes Street in Walled City village in Jolo at about 11:53 a.m. on Monday, while the second one occurred just 100 meters away at 1:06 p.m.

The attacks were reportedly carried out by two Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) suicide bombers. (PNA)