The attack came four days before the 14th anniversary of the April 4, 1995 “Ipil Massacre” that left at least 53 people dead, injured at least 48 others and burned down the public market.
The April 1 bombing was condemned by Barahama Ali, spokesperson of the 113 Base Command of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
“The leadership of 113 Base Command of the MILF condemns the recent bombing and at the (same) time expresses our solidarity with the families of the teachers who were kidnapped last March 13 in Naga town,” Ali said.
“We want to assure the public that the MILF, as a revolutionary organization, does not condone criminal acts like the recent bombing of the downtown area of Ipil and the kidnapping of the teachers in Naga,” he said.
Army Col. Alexander Dicang, commanding officer of the 102 Brigade based in Sanito, said the April 1 bombing is still being investigated. No group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The military and police had earlier launched operations to rescue the three teachers kidnapped March 13 by armed men while on-board a motorized banca on their way home from Bangkaw-bangkaw Elementary School. The teachers — Noemi Mandi, Jocelyn Inion, and Jocelyn Enriquez — are believed to have been brought by the abductors to Basilan province.
Chief Supt. Federico Castro, provincial police chief, said the kidnappers sent word through an emissary that the three teachers “are well and alive.”
“We are in high hopes that the victims are alive,” said Ali, as he added, “we are also doing our part to help the provincial government and the police to secure the freedom of the kidnap victims.”
“The time to build peace is now. Even leaders of big nations have been working to achieve it and there’s no reason why we should not do the same in order to have peace based on justice and equity,” Ali said.
Ali also called on local media practitioners to exercise prudence in reporting.
“We are calling to all media practitioner to exercise extra caution in reporting peace-related news like the teachers’ kidnapping and the recent Ipil bombing by reporting it not merely based on hearsay and speculations,” he urged.
It is important, he said, that “in our desire to have justice for the kidnap victims we are not violating the rights of other people in the province,” he said. (Tony Manaytay/MindaNews)