MANILA – Malacañang said the government will pursue and “crush” all the “godless criminals” who were responsible in the bloody blast at a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday morning.
Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the incident is an “act of terrorism” that “boldly challenged” the capability of the government to secure that part of the region.
“The enemies of the state have boldly challenged the capability of the government to secure the safety of the citizenry in that region,” the Palace official said in a statement on Monday.
He added: “The Armed Forces of the Philippines will rise to the challenge and crush these godless criminals. We will pursue to the ends of the Earth the ruthless perpetrators behind this dastardly crime until every killer is brought to justice and put behind bars.”
Panelo said the authorities have yet to identify the people behind the twin blast at Mt. Carmel Cathedral, but assured that an investigation is already ongoing.
The Palace also condoled with and vowed support for the families of the victims.
President Rodrigo Duterte visited Sulu province on Monday to inspect the blast site. It is not immediately clear, however, whether the President visited the victims of the twin bombings.
Duterte was “angered” and “disappointed” after the twin blasts and has ordered the military to secure civilians in province. The President was also awaiting results of investigations into the incident.
“Of course he was so angry, for one. For another, he is so disappointed that despite the movement to tread the path towards peace and development, there are still some forces in that region who sow terror and kill and murder people,” Panelo said.
“The martial law is effective but this incident is isolated by the way so we have to investigate how it happened. There may be lapses in security. There is no other conclusion to reach. If you have security there and there is one or two bombings,” he added.
JOLO CATHEDRAL LONG TARGETED – PNP
The Philippine National Police (PNP) said that the Jolo church had been under threat even before the twin blasts last weekend that killed around 20 persons and injured more than 80 others.
PNP chief Director General Oscar Albayalde said in a press conference on Monday that there were incidents of grenade-throwing and assassination of church helpers and priests in the church before.
“According sa pari rito, madalas na raw ‘yung threat naman dito. Hindi lang ito yung umpisa. Ang sabi nila pang pito o pangwalo na ito,” Albayalde said. “So talagang under threat itong mga pari rito ever since.”
He added: “Ang hinala nila mostly, probably cellphone detonated ito. Dahil nasa timing at ‘yung dipirensya ng timing noong isang blast at tsaka noong pangalawa mga around 12 or 15 seconds.”
The explosions in the Sulu town happened less than a week after majority of Muslim Mindanao approved the creation of a new region that will grant wider autonomy for Bangsamoros – a local word that refers to Filipino Muslims in the restive south.
But, the military said it was still too early to connect the blasts to the plebiscite on the BOL, which is part of the peace deal between the government country’s largest Moro rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front./PN