Authorities are considering political issues of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao as among the possible motives for the bombings in Cotabato City on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Another bombing occurred Wednesday morning, just 20 meters from the main gate of the Office of the Regional Governor (ORG), Dir. Felisicimo Khu, head of the PNP Directorate for Integrated Police Operations in Western Mindanao, said.
No one was hurt in the 5:10 a.m. explosion as the blasting cap went off without detonating the main charge, an 81-millimeter mortar ammunition, Khu said in a text message.
“The explosion was loud enough to awaken residents within a 500-meter radius,” Khu said, adding that the improvised explosive was hidden under a parked passenger jeepney.
Police, Marine, and Army personnel cordoned the area, recovered the mortar round with a cellphone still attached, and disarmed it around 6:46 a.m.
“The water disruption procedure was delayed a little as the celphone kept on ringing,” Khu said.
Senior Supt. Roberto Badian, city police director, said investigators are looking at several angles, most of which are related to political affairs of the ARMM.
“Actually nadadamay lang kami kasi dito located ang karamihan sa offices ng ARMM, including the ORG,” he said.
One of the issues, according to the police official, was the national government’s ongoing search for officers-in-charge of the ARMM.
“May disgruntled supporters ‘yung nominees sa pagka-regional governor at vice governor na hindi nakasama doon sa shortlist,” Badian said by phone.
Recently, the government chose 14 people who may be appointed as ARMM governor and vice-governor. The “shortlist” was drawn from a total of 111 nominees and applicants.
A total of 440 applied and were nominated for posts in the Regional Legislative Assembly. Only 24 made it to the shortlist.
Another angle being looked into is the Supreme Court’s issuance of a temporary restraining order against the suspension of the ARMM elections, a move preventing the appointment of the regional “caretakers.”
“Mayroong mga gustong matuloy ‘yung elections, ayaw matuloy ‘yung turnover (sa mga OIC) so napakaraming issue, kaya ngayon vina-validate natin ang mga ito,” Badian said.
The police official, however, said they are not discounting the possibility that Wednesday and Tuesday’s blasts are part of the “prevalent threat” of bombings not only in Cotabato City, but also in other areas of Central Mindanao.
“Mayroong continuous threat ng bombing dito sa Central Mindanao, matagal na ito, ‘yung sa grupo naman ni Basit Usman, vina-validate din namin ito,” Badian said.
Khu said operatives are still looking for three of four bombs that were allegedly brought by the group of Jemaah Islamiyah-linked Usman to Cotabato City on September 3.
The bombers are targeting churches, among others, according to the police official. (John Roson)
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