Following the tragic bombing incident in Jolo Sulu on Sunday morning, the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is resolute in its fight for peace and will not be intimidated by persons or groups that threaten to destroy the peace that government has forged with former rebel groups in Mindanao.
“The government, especially the DILG, will not be cowed by peace spoilers and terrorists. We will continue to go after the outlaws who resort to violence and we will continue our efforts to stamp out terrorism and violent extremism from the country,” says DILG Secretary Eduardo M. Año.
The DILG Chief says that the government is committed to the success of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) and will not be sidetracked by an attack such as the Jolo bombing.
He says the perpetrators of the bombing incident at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu employed a similar bombing strategy as the one used by violent extremists in Bali, Indonesia to inflict the worst form of harm among its targets.
"Tinatawag natin 'tong maximize the number of casualties. This is what they did in Bali, Indonesia during the time of J. I. (Jemaah Islamiyah) Pagkatok ng isa, the tendency, the crowd will look for the exit and then doon magko-course lahat. Mayroon ding another explosion doon," he says.
Sunday’s twin bombings of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, which happened during mass, left at least 20 dead and 112 injured. The first explosive device went off inside the Cathedral while Mass was ongoing, and the second bomb exploded near the main entrance of the church a few seconds later while the mass goers were rushing towards the exit.
Año says the police is looking at the possibility of a suicide bomber, “but we cannot know for sure until we complete the interview of survivors and gather sufficient information.”
“The investigation is still ongoing and the Philippine National Police (PNP) will not rest until the perpetrators of the violent incident are unmasked,” he says.
“I assure the public that we will solve this horrendous crime and will bring the perpetrators to justice,”he says.
According to him, the DILG will not give credit to false and unfounded claims over the recent blast and will continue to investigate on the matter until the truth comes out.
“We do not give credence to the supposed claim of ISIS that they are responsible. We will go where the evidence will bring us and will make sure that justice is given to those whose lives were lost in this dastardly crime,” he says.
Meanwhile, DILG Assistant Secretary for Mindanao Affairs Marjorie N. Jalosjos says she is “saddened by the fact that there are those who continuously spread the culture of hate, violence, and divisiveness”.
Jalosjos says “such senseless violence runs counter with the government’s earnest efforts in bringing about just and lasting peace in Muslim Mindanao.”
“Such culture is never acceptable especially when innocent lives are at stake and the highly anticipated Bangsamoro autonomous region is marred with negativities even before its normalization. Our country needs our selfless love and we owe it to ourselves – Muslims and Christians – to give peace a chance,” she adds.
The DILG official says that our country needs selfless love and “we owe it to ourselves – Muslims or Christians – to give peace a chance.”