Bongbong Marcos vows to bring ‘ruthless’ MSU-Marawi bombers to justice
MANILA, Philippines – President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. promised to bring perpetrators of the Mindanao State University (MSU) bombing to justice.
The Chief Executive condemned the violent act from “foreign terrorists” and said that such “extremists” are enemies of society.
“We will bring the perpetrators of this ruthless act to justice,” Marcos said in a statement.
“I condemn in the strongest possible terms the senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists upon the Mindanao State University (MSU) and Marawi communities early this Sunday morning.”
“Extremists who wield violence against the innocent will always be regarded as enemies to our society,” he added.
Marcos also assured the victims of the bombing that his office was in coordination with key agencies and government units to give them aid and ensure their safety.
“We are in close coordination with the regional government of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) and the concerned Local Government Units,” he said.
“I have instructed the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines to ensure the protection and safety of civilians and the security of affected and vulnerable communities. Additional security personnel are also being deployed,” he continued.
Marcos, however, urged Filipinos to remain calm to ensure that reports regarding the “horrific event” will not be “further compounded by inaccurate, unvetted, and unofficial information.”
Lawmakers likewise expressed their utter denunciation of the brazen attack that struck a congregation of Christian faithful holding a Holy Mass inside the campus gym.
“I express the highest condemnation for the perpetrators, these murderers who targeted innocents in prayer. There is no room in Marawi, in Lanao, or in the entire Philippines for them,” Lanao del Sur 1st District Rep. Zia Alonto Adiong said in a statement Sunday.
Adiong called on the national government to do what it can to bring the perpetrators of the “vile act” to justice.
“We implore upon the national government to leave no stone unturned until the perpetrators of this vile act are brought to justice. It is the bare minimum that we must do to ensure that the right to life of our citizens are protected,” she said.
“I extend my support and whatever assistance my office may provide to the victims and their families, as well as to the entire community affected by this heinous act,” Adiong added.
Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez likewise denounced the attack and gave assurance that victims of the incident will receive assistance from his office.
“We vehemently condemn this heinous assault on the sacred space of worship and unity. Our thoughts are with the victims and their families during this painful time,” he said.
“My office will closely coordinate with the investigators to determine any possible victims from Cagayan de Oro and Misamis Oriental and extend all possible assistance to them,” he added.
ACT Teachers party-list Rep. France Castro, meanwhile, appealed to authorities to make sure of the safety of students and teachers following the attack.
“We call on the authorities to ensure the protection of students, faculty, and staff in all educational institutions, and to take all necessary measures to prevent further incidents of violence,” she said.
“We also urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities that may pose a threat to the safety and well-being of our communities. We cannot allow fear and violence to undermine the pursuit of education and the advancement of knowledge,” she added.
Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao police director Brigadier General Allan Nobleza told reporters that authorities are investigating the explosion and that one angle being pursued was possible revenge by pro-Islamic State militants.
The Philippine military said Saturday they killed 11 militants, including members of the Dawlah Islamiyah-Philippines, a pro-Islamic State group, in a military operation the day before in Maguindanao del Sur province.
Senate President Juan Miguel Zubiri, who also hails from Mindanao, supported calls for an extensive investigation of the incident and a relentless pursuit to hold perpetrators accountable.
“It is disheartening to see such violence play out in Marawi once again, years after the siege and well into a period of newfound peace enjoyed by our brothers and sisters under the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao,” he said in a statement also on Sunday.
“I join the families of the victims in calling for the coordinated efforts of the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous government to leave no stone unturned in bringing justice to their loved ones, and to restore the peace that we have worked hard to gain in Marawi over the past six years,” he added.
In another statement, Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr. said that “places of education and practice of religion should be safe havens.”
Senator Win Gatchalian, meanwhile, extended empathy to the families of those who died in the incident.
“I extend my deepest condolences to the victims’ families and express my solidarity with the community. Such acts of terrorism only strengthen our resolve to work collaboratively to eradicate extremism and promote peace,” he said.
Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, on the other hand, said: “Peace, love and respect are the norms of the day between Muslim & Christian students in MSU b4 & even after this horrific incident.”
“I am sure the ones responsible are not Muslims nor Christians, they are terrorists,” he likewise said.
Senator Imee Marcos lamented that the explosion occurred on the eve of intended peace talks.
“The historic injustice of Mindanao cannot be allowed to persist, nor should the horrific siege of Marawi ever be repeated especially on the eve of intended peace talks,” she noted.
Senate President Pro Tempore Loren Legarda, for her part, encouraged unity, resilience, and solidarity amid the tragic event while Senate Majority Leader Joel Villanueva said the government is one with the nation in praying for the victims of the bombing.
“[A]cts of atrocious extremism have no place in a society that values peace, harmony, and the pursuit of knowledge. Should these attacks go unchecked, the very fabric of our community is at risk. There should be no room for any form of violence and extremism in this society,” said Senator JV Ejercito.
Senator Jinggoy Ejercito Estrada stressed that the “barbaric act of terror” has no place in society.
“The full force of the law must be applied to ensure accountability and deter further violence,” he said.
He also asserted rejection of “any attempts to divide us along religious lines or incite hatred among us.”
Senator Grace Poe also decried the bombing and set expectations for law enforcers to bring the perpetrators to justice and go after their networks.
“We decry this bombing incident against innocent civilians, which clearly showed the depravity of groups to terrorize society. The crackdown against unlawful elements, including terrorists, will be relentless with the vigilance of our local communities,” she said.
Senators Nancy Binay, Alan Peter Cayetano, and Koko Pimentel also enjoined other senators to seek fast action against those involved in the blast.
Senator Robin Padilla, on the other hand, relayed his consolation to the bereaved families.
“Along with my family and my Senate office, I extend my condolences to the families of those who died and my sympathies to those who were wounded,” he said.
Meanwhile, Senator Manuel Lito Lapid assured that the Senate is prepared to extend help not just to agencies that maintain peace and order but also to the families of four fatalities.