MILF conducting own probe on Jolo blasts

MAIGO, Lanao del Norte — The leadership of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is conducting its own investigation on the two explosions that rocked the cathedral in Jolo, Sulu, on Sunday morning.

MILF Chairman Hadji Murad Ebrahim, during his visit in Maigo, Lanao del Norte on Sunday to lead the grand rally for the inclusion of the six municipalities of the province to the new Bangsamoro government, said the explosion “is definitely not connected with the plebiscite because it is already done”.

In his message to thousands of residents of the province, Murad said the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) is for peace and it will protect not only the rights of Bangsamoro people but also the non-Bangsamoro people like the Christians and indigenous peoples.

“We are not dividing the people. In fact, we are uniting the Muslim and the Christian people,” Murad said.

On February 6, more than 300,000 registered voters in Lanao del Norte will participate in the Bangsamoro plebiscite to decide if the municipalities of Pantar, Baloi, Tagoloan, Munai, Tangkal and Nunungan will be included in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).

This town was attacked by MILF fighters in the years 2000, 2004, and 2008.

Recently, Maigo Mayor Rafael Rizalda and Abdullah Macapaar, also known as Commander Bravo, the leader of the MILF-Bangsamoro Islamic Armed Forces in North Western Mindanao Front, reconciled to strengthen their advocacy for the success of the Bangsamoro.

Rizalda is the first Christian mayor who declared support to BOL by visiting the MILF camp in Darapanan, North Cotabatoang Bravo’s Camp Bilal in Barangay Tamparan, Munai, Lanao del Norte.

Meanwhile Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr. condemned the bomb attack in Jolo, Sulu.

“We have come a long way in our journey to achieve enduring peace in Mindanao. Now is not the time to cower and be intimidated by such a selfish and cowardly deed,” he said.

“Instead, let us show that we can work together and push through with our collective aspiration for a peaceful, united, and progressive Mindanao,” Galvez added.

He also called on the public to stay calm and refrain from aggravating the situation by issuing speculations, particularly on social media, and wait for the proper authorities to complete the investigation.

Meanwhile, speaking to reporters while waiting for her flight back to Manila at the Laguindingan Airport in Laguindingan, Misamis Oriental, Vice President Ma. Leonor “Leni” Robredo said it is important that the culprits will be identified and arrested right away.

“What happened in Jolo is sad. We hope it won’t happen again. It is imperative that the perpetrators be identified and the victims be given justice. Otherwise, it will only embolden others to do the same attack,” she said.

The bombings happened just a few days after the plebiscite on the BOL in the core territories of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM).