Cotabato bombing meant to divert attention from fraud in ARMM — InPeace

May. 20, 2007

DAVAO CITY — The bombing of the Weena Bus Terminal in Cotabato is an obvious ploy to draw away the heat from electoral fraud happening in ARMM.

This was the statement of Atty. Beverly Selim-Musni, convenor of Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace).

Two children were killed and some 30 people injured when an explosion hit the terminal around 11 a.m. on Friday, May 18. Police have suspected a couple behind the bombing, which they linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah, the same group the police blamed for another bombing in Tacurong City on April 9 that killed three people.

Musni pointed out the timing of the incident comes at a time when the ARMM is under public scrutiny for massive electoral fraud.

Why now, when all eyes are on ARMM? Why bring up the terrorist threat again in the heat of the election canvassing? This is an obvious diversion. asks Musni.

Musni lamented how the people in ARMM are again disenfranchised in the elections in favor of those who hold money and are most capable of violence.

Her group, InPeace, noted the international observers report of massive cheating in ARMM such as vote buying, flying voting, vote shaving and padding. In Cotabato City, a man was distributing money to tricycle drivers in full view of the observers and the public, and even smiled when being taken pictures.

While in Maguindanao, the pro-administration Governor Andal Ampatuan had offered 1-million pesos to the local mayors to ensure a 12-0 victory for the administrations Team Unity senatorial slate.

Media and Namfrel were either barred entry from provincial canvassing or not given copies of election returns of the provinces 22 towns, notes Musni.

With these high incidents of fraud, the bombing is most likely part of the state-sponsored machinery that is perpetrating fraud and fear in ARMM, said Musni.

She recalls the Mindanao Truth Commission in 2004, which links state-sponsored elements to 37 mystery bombings in Mindanao that justified the all out war on terror in Mindanao.

InPeace believes that all these incidents point to the administrations machinery of running the elections with money, machinery and warlordism in Mindanao.

Peace advocates all over Mindanao condemn the innocent lives that were brutally sacrificed in order to hide the dirty machinations of the Arroyo administration in order to cling to power. Mrs. Arroyo indirectly or directly is responsible for the deaths that have occurred here in Mindanao, says Musni.

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