Senators urge gov’t to review intel fund use amid bombings
The recent spate of bombings in Mindanao, which took place while the island remains under martial law, should prompt the government to review how it has been spending its intelligence funds, according to Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon.
Successive blasts rocked General Santos City and North Cotabato province over the weekend. No one was killed in the explosions, but seven people were hurt in the General Santos explosion.
But in July and August, deadly explosions ripped through Sultan Kudarat and Basilan provinces. Five people died in the Sultan Kudarat blasts, while 11 were killed in Basilan.
“We need to revisit the utilization of the intelligence budget because the first corner is to see where the intelligence fund is being utilized, and that is why I think it is about time that we activate the select committee on intelligence funds,” Drilon told reporters on Monday.
The use of the confidential funds should be tackled in a closed-door meeting of the select committee on intelligence funds, he added.
But he also said it was premature to say if the bombings would affect any plan to extend the martial law declaration in Mindanao, which ends on Dec. 31.
Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the series of bombings was “alarming,” leading him to question the effectiveness of the martial law declaration.
“What’s the point of such a declaration by the government if it is incapable of preventing such bombings?” he asked.
President Duterte placed Mindanao under martial law on May 23, 2017, after Islamic State (IS)-allied militants rampaged through Marawi City.
The siege ended after five months, but Mr. Duterte sought an extension of martial law to prevent IS supporters from regrouping.
In Maguindanao province, the military said members of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) were behind the bombing of a videoke bar in Midsayap town, North Cotabato, on Sunday night.
Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of the 6th Infantry Division, described the BIFF as “peace spoilers.” —With a report from Edwin O. Fernandez
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