Bayan Muna hopes Jolo blasts won’t be used to justify anti-terrorism law
MANILA, Philippines — Party-list group Bayan Muna condemned on Tuesday the twin bombings in Jolo, Sulu that claimed the 11 lives, including several military officers.
But Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Zarate stressed that the bombings, which took place on Monday, should not be used to justify the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020.
“These latest bombing incidents should be investigated thoroughly and the culprits must be made accountable,” Zarate said in a statement.
“Especially that now the AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] claimed that the one responsible for the blast was the same person who got away from pursuing four Army intelligence officers in Jolo before they were gunned down on June 29 by policemen near the police station at Barangay Walled City in Jolo,” he added.
Zarate was referring to revelations of Philippine Army chief Lt. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana who earlier said that the two female suicide bombers behind the explosion in Barangay Walled City in Jolo were the bombers being tracked by four military intelligence operatives.
The military lost track of the suicide bombers because the four military officers were gunned down by police officers in a controversial incident last June 29.
Then they resurfaced on Monday, but this time carrying out the bombings.
In a Senate hearing on Monday, just before the explosion in Jolo, the AFP Western Mindanao Command chief, Maj. Gen. Corleto Vinluan Jr., said the people behind the killing of the intel operatives could be related to the suicide bombers.
Vinluan said that because the military could not locate the suicide bombers he decided to intentionally compromise the covert operations by surfacing and asking Jolo town and barangay officials, even the police, about the suspects’ whereabouts.
Zarate said this incident showed that the military could do its job even without the Anti-Terrorism Act.
“It can be seen that the AFP can track down and apprehend bombers or terrorists without the terror law. If not for the in-fighting of the AFP and the PNP then the bombers would have been caught,” Zarate said.
But earlier, Sen. Ronald dela Rosa — a Philippine Military Academy alumnus and former chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP) — insisted that the Jolo incident was concrete proof of the need to amend laws on terrorism.
He also urged critics of the law to set aside their fear that the law would be used against them because its purpose was to crack down on terrorism.
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