The Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao condemns the series of mysterious bombings and bomb threats in certain parts of the country particularly in Mindanao cities and towns.
Bombings targeted at civilian populations in urban centers have largely been anonymous. This is in contrast to military-targeted bombings like command-detonated explosives which are usually officially claimed by armed revolutionary movements.
These ‘mystery bombings’ have gone unsolved through the years and the state’s inability to pinpoint culprits and bring them to justice has contributed to the state of impunity against human rights in the country. We note that the state has failed to get to the roots of the bombings on the San Pedro Cathedral, the Davao airport and wharf bombings, and now the Cagayan de Oro-Limketkai, Cotabato City, and North Cotabato bombings.
We also note that these bombings appear to be in congruence with the much-hyped global terror alert issued by the United States government. We believe that the US-led war on terror is again being drumbeaten by the US to further justify before the American people its government’s military spending especially in the midst of a deepening economic recession at home and in other advanced industrialized countries. The US has no credibility whatsoever in its claim of waging a ‘war on terror’ because its methods and doctrines themselves include aerial bombardments of civilian populations, drone attacks claiming the lives of civilians, torture, and prolonged incarceration of political prisoners in isolated detention facilities. We also question the credibility of the Al Qaeda terrorist bogeyman mainly because these were former CIA-trained armed vigilante groups in anti-American hotbeds. Even the Abu Sayyaf links to the Philippine military and civilian authorities were exposed by American kidnap victim Gracia Burnham.
Back in 2001, a similar wave of bombings targeted at civilians occurred after the 9-11 attack and after President George W. Bush’s state visit to the Philippines where he made a pitch for a military campaign against the Jemaah Islamiya in the Philippines and in Asia. Today, the same atmosphere envelopes us after the US had announced a strategic military pivot to Asia.
It is in this historical light that we analyze the bombings and bomb scare in Manila.
In terms of specifics, we raise questions and observations on the following:
• – The immediate cleaning up of post-bombing sites which wipe away forensic evidence (we note the similarity between the hasty clean-up of the bombed Davao International Airport in 2003 and the CDO-Limketkai bombings)
• -The flip flopping of government pronouncements on the details of the bombing such as types of explosives used or the possible culprits, indicating that investigations have not been thorough and scientific
• – The convenient attempts to link the bombings to Moro groups and relating these to the developments of the peace talks with the MILF
We call on the Aquino government to conduct a thorough and scientific investigation into these bombings, leaving no stone unturned such that the possible culpability of state security agents is likewise looked into.
We call on Congress to swiftly exercise oversight over national defense and police programs and the state’s measures to prevent further bombings and pinpoint accountability to previous ones.
We call on the Aquino government not to exploit the situation by further institutionalizing Draconian measures that curtail human rights and fundamental freedoms. We note that bombings usually lead to the militarization of urban centers, an example of which is the establishment of urban-based military task forces which continue to exist until now in Mindanao cities. In 2003, as exposed by the junior officers involved in the Oakwood incident, bombings were allegedly instigated by the AFP in order to justify increases in US military aid and to consolidate Gloria Arroyo’s hold to power.
We call on the public to be vigilant and critical of the US war of terror and not to be swayed by the engineering of the public mindset such as the instigation of Islamophobia.
We express our prayers and sympathies to the innocent lives— who are usually the poor and marginalized— again taken by these cowardly, dastardly, and evil acts of violence.#
Bishop Felixberto Calang