Opposition Senator Leila M. de Lima has expressed alarm over the increasing incidents of bombings in Mindanao using improvised explosive devices (IEDs) despite the continuing implementation of martial law in the region.
De Lima, a known human rights defender, said the state forces should take a hard look at what fuel the consecutive attacks and take adequate measures to ensure the protection of the innocent civilians in the area.
“With the surge of attacks using improvised explosive devices, it appears that the continuing implementation of martial law in Mindanao according to tyrant Duterte’s order failed to address insurgency and terrorism the same way it failed to guarantee peace in war-stricken Mindanao,” she said.
“The use of IEDs to inflict harm upon the citizenry and security forces continues to pose an ever-more increasing threat in the region. If the government fails to urgently step up their efforts in countering the IED threats, the safety and security of the innocent people will be compromised,” she added.
Even as Mindanao is under martial law, local media outlets have reported five bombing incidents in several areas in North Cotabato, General Santos City, Basilan, and Sulatan Kudarat from August to September alone.
The most recent bombing incident happened last Sept. 16 in which an IED reportedly exploded in a videoke bar in Midsayap, North Cotabato, which is 50 meters away from the Midsayap police office. No one was reported injured.
Prior to the said attack, an explosion of an IED beside a pharmacy in General Santos City last Sept. 16 has injured eight people, including a six-year-old girl, while a bombing in an Internet shop in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat last Sept. 2 left two people dead and 14 others injured.
Among the attacks also include an incident in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat where a bomb contained in a backpack was detonated in the town proper during a festival, killing three people and injuring at least 37 people. The bombing was blamed by the military on the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) or one of its factions.
De Lima said these bombing incidents put to serious doubts Mr. Duterte’s brand of leadership which banks on lies and focuses on promoting violence and impunity.
“Kasabay ng pagkabahala at pag-aalala natin sa kaligtasan ng ating mga kababayan sa Mindanao, ay ang atin ding pagtataka. Hindi ba’t idinadahilan ni Duterte ang peace and order para magdeklara ng Martial Law? Bakit mayroon at dumadami ang ganitong mga insidente?,” De Lima asked.
“Kompiyansa tayo sa kakayahan ng ating unipormadong hanay na siguruhin ang kaayusan sa Mindanao. Pero mahalaga dito ang isang maayos at makatwirang pamumuno; yung hindi nanggagaling sa isang taong puro pangako, puro panunumbat, puro sisi, at puro dahas ang alam gawin,” she added
As early as June this year, De Lima already urged government forces to step up their efforts in countering the IED threats by running after those training local jihadists and those funding the manufacture of IEDs.
It may be recalled that security officials pointed to the Abu Sayyaf, the BIFF and the New People’s Army (NPA) to be responsible for the surge of violent IED attacks in the region since the Marawi siege.
“The government must show that it is exerting all efforts to prevent these attacks from escalating in Mindanao to avoid harming the innocent people,” said De Lima.
Martial law, which was first declared by Duterte in May 23, 2017, is extended until Dec. 31 this year with concurrence of the two Houses of Congress.