Army’s Eastmincom on heightened alert after bombings in Jolo cathedral

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 28 January) — The Army’s Eastern Mindanao Command here has raised its security to a heightened alert level after two deadly explosions that happened in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday morning that killed 20 and injured a hundred others.

“While we have to heighten our alert level, particularly in securing all places of worships, place of convergence and public places, be informed however, that we have not received any hard information that any of our areas is directly under threat,” Lt. Col. Ezra Balagtey, speaking for Eastmincom, said in a statement.

Balagtey said they are closely monitoring any lawless armed group that would threaten the peace in Davao City or elsewhere in their area of responsibility.

Soldiers check on the cathedral after improvised explosive devices went off inside and outside the Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday, 27 January 2019. Photo courtesy of AFP Western Mindanao Command

“We are assuring everyone that the Eastern Mindanao Command is closely monitoring and coordinating with our counterparts in Western Mindanao and other law enforcement agencies like the PNP and NICA for us to have a better situational analysis. Further our security mechanism is in place to ensure the safety of everyone,” Balagtey said.

He also condemned the twin explosions that hit the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo, Sulu on Sunday morning.

“We are one with the peace- loving Filipino people in condemning the bombing of Jolo Cathedral in Brgy. Walled City, Jolo, Sulu at 8:15 a.m. today, which hurt and killed churchgoers” Balagtey said.

He then appealed to the public “to be more vigilant and cooperative with the authorities in reporting any security related concerns.”

He also urged everyone “to remain calm and avoid spreading unvalidated information that may cause panic in our respective communities as this will not help in our security instead of contributing to the terrorist victory.”

Meanwhile, Lieutenant General Arnel B. Dela Vega, commander of the Western Mindanao Command condemned the “barbaric act of terrorists who indiscriminately attack the innocent civilians in Sulu.”

“We commiserate with the bereaved families of the killed victims. Rest assured that we will provide all necessary assistance to the wounded victims and the kin of the departed,” he added. (Mart Sambalud / MindaNews)