Maranao leaders condemn mall blast

BOMB SEARCH. Army and police bomb disposal experts inspect the South Seas Mall baggage counter at the second floor where an improvised explosive device was also found and deactivated. (Photo by 6th ID)
MARAWI CITY: Multi-sectoral leaders of Lanao del Sur have condemned the New Year’s Eve bombing in Cotabatao City that left two persons dead and dozens of others injured.

Civic leader Samira Gutoc denounced the incident, saying martial law has not protected Mindanao.

“In the light of the recent tragedy leading to dozens injured and dead in Cotabato City, I express deep sadness in a time of grief. Let us appeal for preventive measures that [would protect] the Bangsamoro Organic Law and thus gains of peace talks,” Gutoc said in a message to The Manila Times.
She advised peace-loving citizens to always be on guard against spoilers of peace.
Gutoc was a commissioner of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission (BTC), but resigned in protest over a rape comment of President Rodrigo Duterte on Moro women at the height of the Marawi siege in 2017.
The BTC drafted the Bangsamoro Basic Law that Congress enacted into law as Republic Act 11054 or the “Bangsamoro Organic Law,” which is subject to ratification on January 21 and February 6.
Sultan Abdul Hamidullah Atar of the Royal Sultanate of Marawi expressed his indignation over the Cotabato blast.

“I join all the peace-loving people in strongly condemning this dastardly act perpetrated by insane terrorists. We cannot just remain silent on what is happening around us especially at times when we Marawians are still in the midst of recovering from the tragedy of last year’s Marawi siege,” Atar said.

Commander Jannati Mimbantas, head of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)-Northeastern Mindanao Front said the despicable act should be strongly condemned by all and a thorough investigation must immediately be conducted by authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice.

MILF Central Committee chairman Al-Haj Murad Ebrahim issued an official statement condemning the December 31 explosion.

“This dastardly act of putting an improvised explosive device with intent to kill or harm civilians is an act of cowardice, is inhuman and atrocious,” Ebrahim said.

Maj. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division in Camp Siongco, Maguindanao, said initial investigation led to the Islamic State-linked Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters in Maguindanao that recently shifted to attacking non-combatants from harassing military personnel, starting with the Isulan bombings last September.

“We are not discounting the possibility that the IS-inspired group was responsible for the bombing,” Sobejana added.

“Our authorities have the information about the suspects. As to the motive, that is being determined,” Cotabato City Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi said in a news conference two hours after the blast. (The Manila Times/RSP)

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