DAVAO CITY, Philippines — Moro human rights group Suara Bangsamoro called for an independent investigation on the recent bombings in Cotabato City and neighboring municipalities in Cotabato and Maguindanao that happened as the extended martial law is about to expire on December 31.
Suara Bangsamoro national spokesperson Amirah Lidasan, in a phone interview, strongly denounced the series of explosions on Sunday that left at least 19 persons injured.
“We are (asking that) not another bomb explode especially (because) it’s currently…the holidays when families are together,” Lidasan said.
She also said she hoped that the recent bombings will not be used to justify another round of martial law declaration and/or call for the passage of stronger anti-terror measures.
Authorities are still investigating the separate incidents of blasts. But in previous interviews, the military raised the possibility that members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were behind the explosions.
Lidasan, however, said that the incidents should be investigated thoroughly first before the military assign responsibility to any group.
“These [bombings] happened not only recently. It has long been a call of different groups to investigate the bombings occurring in different areas in Mindanao, even following Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial law,” Lidasan said.
During the Arroyo administration in 2003, Lidasan recalled that human rights advocates also led a fact-finding mission to look deeper on the same “questionable” series of bombings in Mindanao.
She said that the investigation showed that security officials then had plans on pushing the government for stronger measures “in an objective to control” the security.
“That’s why we are calling now for an independent investigation to know who is behind it…(B)ecause we can see that it was done in a context of a political agenda, with not only the local government units but as well as the national government proposing for strict measures like the amendments to the Human Security Act or strengthening its Oplan Kapanatagan,” Lidasan said.
Duterte’s martial law declaration in 2017 was further extended in 2018 and until the end of this year, as the government said that other “terrorist groups” continue to pose threats to the security of Mindanao.
Malacañang announced earlier this month that Duterte will not be asking for another extension of martial law following the assessment of his security and defense advisers of the weakening of the “terrorist and extremist rebellion” in the island. (davaotoday.com)