More priests, pols, groups condemn Cotabato bombing PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 09 August 2013 14:09

Condemnations of Monday’s deadly bombing in Cotabato City continued to reverberate through Central Mindanao, an incident whose impact have spread over to supposedly more peaceful and progressive provinces around.

Missionaries of a large Catholic congregation operating in the region, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), whose pontifical base is in Rome, on Thursday branded the incident “dastardly and devastating,” urging authorities to investigate extensively.

In a statement, Father Lauro De Guia, the OMI’s Philippine area pastoral figurehead, said they were saddened by the bombing, perpetrated amid the supposedly solemn observance of the local Muslim communities of the Ramadhan fasting season.

The OMI has been operating since the late 1930s various humanitarian projects for Muslim and Christian communities in Central Mindanao and the island provinces of Sulu and Tawi-Tawi.

The deadly car bomb explosion, which killed eight people, two of them children, and injured more than 30 others, have spawned tension in the provinces of Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat and the cities of Kidapawan and Tacurong, all in Administrative Region 12.

The provincial peace and order council of Cotabato province, chaired by Gov. Lala Taliño-Mendoza, directed Thursday the local police to impose measures necessary to forestall bombings in any part of the province.

Mendoza said they have been initiating backchannel dialogues with local executives, religious and traditional leaders from across the province to implore cross-section support to the efforts of the provincial government to protect Muslim, Christian and indigenous communities from attacks by extremists, “peace spoilers” and bandit groups.

Mendoza said they have to tighten security to ensure the safety of their August 20-September 1, 2013 Kalivugan Festival, which is to cap the 99th founding anniversary of Cotabato.

Cotabato province has just reeled off from devastations wrought by conflicts and deadly bombings in recent years and local officials are busy sustaining the momentum of the province’s improving peace and order.

Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao Gov. Mujiv Hataman, chairman of the ARMM’s peace and order council, reiterated Thursday his condemnation of the car bomb explosion in Cotabato City.

Hataman has also called on the public to be vigilant following the string of bomb attacks in Central Mindanao.

“We appeal to the public to remain calm and to be more vigilant in the wake of all these bombings that we have witnessed in the last ten days. We call on authorities to step up efforts to keep our communities safe from threats of indiscriminate and senseless attacks,” to told reporters Thursday morning.

Maguindanao Gov. Esmael Mangudadatu said bombers behind the car bomb explosion in Cotabato City must be identified and prosecuted to the fullest extent of law.

“This is the time for us to unite, hold each others’ hands in helping authorities solve this heinous crime, while we reach out to the families of those who perished to make them feel we share with their feeling of loss and grief,” Mangudadatu said.

Mangudadatu said he had tasked the Maguindanao provincial police director, Senior Supt. Rudelio Jocson, to help gather valuable information that may have value to the on-going effort of the Cotabato City police in determine who could have perpetrated the bombing.

Mangudadatu said while Cotabato City is under Administrative Region 12, it is inside Maguindanao and that the two areas share common socio-economic interests.

Former Cotabato City Vice-Mayor Muslimin Sema, leader of the largest and most politically active group in the Moro National Liberation Front, had also condemned Monday’s bombing in the city.

“It was a senseless murder of innocent people, an attack on the sanctity of life. The bombers must be brought to the bar of justice,” Sema told reporters via text message Thursday from Mecca, Saudi Arabia, where he is performing the optional Islamic umrah pilgrimage.