MNLF urges govt: Talk with rebels in Jolo church blast probe


Posted at Jan 28 2019 10:53 AM | Updated as of Jan 28 2019 11:30 AM

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MANILA - The government should get the input of rebel and bandit groups as it investigates church blast in Jolo that killed 20 people and wounded 100 others, the Moro National Liberation Front said Monday.

The twin blasts claimed by the Islamic State ripped the church during mass on Sunday morning. Jolo was placed on lockdown with checkpoints and roadblocks to "contain" the situation, police said.

"Sa mga nakaraang administration, ang kanilang investigation, very selective, lalo na sa time ni Aquino. Ang kukuhanin lang ay iyung mga pabor sa kanila na magsasalita," said MNLF spokesperson Atty. Emmanuel Fontanilla.

(During previous administrations, their investigation was very selective, especially under the time of Aquino. They only get input from those who would speak in their favor.)

"Ngayon sana, lahat-lahat na mga sectors, lahat ng mga stakeholders -- even rebelde, mga terrorists, dapat sana kausapin, para malaman natin," he added.

(I hope that they now talk to all sectors, all stakeholders -- even rebels, terrorists.)

Policemen on Monday collect fragments of the bombs that ripped through a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu.

The government should extend the dialogue even to the Abu Sayyaf and the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters, Fontanilla told radio DZMM.

"Kung mismong Abu Sayyaf gustong magsali, imbitahan natin; MNLF, BIFF, lahat-lahat ng sectors," he said.

(If Abu Sayyaf wants to join, let's invite them; the MNLF, BIFF, all sectors.)

The military on Sunday said the Abu Sayyaf, could be behind the Jolo bombing.

The Islamic State, however, claimed responsibility on the attacks, saying it was carried out by 2 suicide bombers, according to US-based SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors jihadist websites.

The military was not discounting this claim, but initial assessment found that the bombs were planted at the church, not strapped onto suicide bombers, said Western Mindanao Command chief Lt. Gen. Arnel Dela Vega.

There are many interest groups in Mindanao that are motivated by business and "want the trouble or the violence to continue," Fontanilla said.

Investigators should look into the south's deepest problems and not just "obvious" angles, he said.

"Siguro ang mensahe nitong pangyayari ay talagang bigyang pansin [dapat] ng ating pamahalaan itong problema at titingnan ang pinakamalalim at pinaka-root causes nitong problema," he said.

(Perhaps the message of this incident is for the government to pay attention to the problem and look at the deepest problems and their root causes.)

The Jolo bloodshed came less than a week after a regional plebiscite voted to ratify a law that will grant wider self rule to the Muslim minority in the south.

Sulu, which includes Jolo, voted against the Bangsamoro Organic Law but the wider Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao approved it.

-- With a report from Agence France-Presse