BAYAN Muna Representative Carlos Isagani Zarate strongly condemns the series of bombings that rocked Mindanao the past two weeks and calls for a thorough investigation through a citizen-led truth commission.
Zarate said he is “suspiciously disturbed of the timing of this latest series of bombings” in Mindanao, occurring as it has in the heels of the August 2 US State Department warning about possible terrorist threats from Al-Qaeda network against US interests in Middle East and North Africa.
Even more disturbing, he said, is the fact that soon after the US State Department advisory, a supposed video of Al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri circulated in the media, accusing the US government of orchestrating the overthrow of Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt.
Zarate believes that as a consequence of the advisory, local authorities will again direct their investigations on Moro communities in Mindanao that suspect of harboring alleged terrorist cells.
In the past, this kind of operation has led to the rounding up and detention of innocent Moro civilians as well as heightened military operations in Moro communities.
“It is disheartening to note that while the Muslims anticipate the feast of the Eid’l Fitr, the thought of them being the subjects of military and police operation, being made the ‘usual suspects,’ also hangs in the air,” said Zarate.
Mindanao truth commission
Zarate also calls for the revival of the citizen-led truth commission, similar to the Mindanao Truth Commission (MTC) that probed the series of terror bombings in Mindanao in 2003. The MTC investigations then pointed out to the alleged complicities of former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes and former military intelligence chief Brigadier General Victor Corpus in the Mindanao bombings.
The MTC probe, which lasted for 10 months, obtained testimonies from the victims and several witnesses, including some junior military officers who were privy to an alleged classified Operation Plan of the Defense Department that involved terror bombings in different parts of Mindanao.
In relation to the ongoing deliberations of the proposed national budget in the House of Representatives, Zarate said that he may move to call for a zero budget for the Department of National Defense “if there is evidence showing that it is, directly or indirectly, complicit in this latest wave of terror bombings in Mindanao.”
President Benigno Aquino III, during the 22nd Mindanao Business Conference in Davao City, said the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf Group and the rogue Muslim rebels in Mindanao were among the three groups being eyed in the Mindanao bombings.
"This is a desperate act by a small sector dead set against the attainment of peace in Mindanao, the President said during the conference.
Aquino said that Abu Sayyaf bandits were allegedly behind the Cagayan de Oro City and Cotabato City bombings, while the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters under Ameril Umbra Kato, allegedly perpetrated the blasts in North Cotabato and Maguindanao.
He did not name the third group, which was allegedly behind the bombings. However, he said the three "joined together" to oppose the process of bring peace in Mindanao. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)