MANILA - The deadly blasts in Jolo, Sulu should not stop everyone from working for peace in the restive south, Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Governor Mujiv Hataman said Sunday as he condemned the incident "in the strongest possible terms."
As of 2:00 in the afternoon, the ARMM police said at least 20 people, including civilians and soldiers, were killed in the blasts at a Roman Catholic church in Jolo town, while some 81 more were injured.
"This bomb attack was done in a place of peace and worship, and it comes at a time when we are preparing for another stage of the peace process in Mindanao," Hataman lamented, referring to the people's recent approval of the new Bangsamoro region.
The creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, which will replace ARMM, is the implementation of a 2014 peace deal between the government and the country's largest Moro rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.
Majority of the people in Muslim Mindanao voted in favor of granting greater autonomy to their homeland. The only areas that voted against this was Isabela City in Basilan, and the province of Sulu where the twin blasts occurred.
Hataman called on the public to cooperate with the authorities and avoid making speculations while authorities are investigating the incident. He also called to the people in Jolo to remain calm and vigilant as they try to pin down the people behind the blasts.
"Let us continue working for peace in the region. Violence should not deter us from continuing our work to establish a lasting peace in our homeland," he said.
ARMM, Mujiv Hataman, Jolo, Sulu, Muslim Mindanao, Blast, Explosion, Bangsamoro, jolo blast