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Lawmaker to give DND ‘zero budget’ for bombings

/ 03:45 AM August 11, 2013

Rep. Carlos Zarate. INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

DAVAO CITY, Philippines—Bayan Muna party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate on Saturday said he would move for a “zero budget” for the Department of National Defense if evidence would show that it was involved in the series of bombings that have been taking place in Mindanao.

The latest explosion took place in Upi town in Maguindanao on Saturday, forcing authorities to shut down the Cotabato-Lebak Highway for several hours.

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Zarate said he was “suspiciously disturbed” by the timing of the bombings because these followed the Aug. 2 warning issued by the US Department of State on possible terrorist threats coming from al-Qaida and its network against US interests in the Middle East and North Africa.

He said the linking of Muslim terrorists to the attacks was not without basis but also feared that these could be used by government security forces against Moro communities in Mindanao, especially those near suspected terrorist lairs.

Zarate said he wanted the bombings investigated by an independent body, similar to the Mindanao Truth Commission (MTC).

The MTC is a civilian-led group that for 10 months investigated the bombings in Davao City and other parts of Mindanao in 2003.

Zarate recalled that the MTC investigated the 2003 bombings and unearthed classified documents that seemed to link former Defense Secretary Angelo Reyes to the bombings.

The bombings were eventually blamed on the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) but suspicions of military involvement in them was one of the issues raised during the Oakwood mutiny, a protest action by young military officers.

The mutineers, led by Capt. Gerardo Gambala and Lt. now Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, made public alleged memorandum of instructions issued by then President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo ordering Reyes to fully implement “Oplan Greenbase,” which was the supposed code name for a massive anti-MILF operation.

Then Presidential Peace Adviser Eduardo Ermita also allegedly signed another document—“The President’s Four-Point Policy Framework in Addressing the Southern Philippines Secessionist/MILF Problem”—which supposedly hinted at a government plan to hold the MILF responsible for military-backed bombings in Mindanao.

Both Arroyo and Ermita branded the documents as “spurious.”  The present government is engaged in peace talks with the MILF.

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Zarate said the bombings “led to the rounding up and detention of innocent Moro civilians and heightened military operations in Moro communities.”

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TAGS: “zero budget”, Bayan Muna, Bombings, Carlos Isagani Zarate, Cotabato-Lebak Highway, Department of National Defense, Maguindanao, Mindanao Truth Commission, Moro Islamic Liberation Front, MTC, Muslim Terrorists
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