Jolo blasts & the BOL*

\THE deadly claws of terrorism made their scratch mark once more in a twin bomb attack in a Catholic church in Jolo, Sulu last Sunday morning, leaving 20 people dead and more than a hundred others wounded.

Although the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying two of their suicide bombers detonated explosive belts at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel, an initial military probe revealed that the bombs used were planted.

The first bomb went off during a Mass while the second exploded from the utility box of a motorcycle in the parking area as soldiers rushed to help the wounded.

The military earlier said the dreaded bandits of the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) could be behind the blasts. However, the pipe bombs used in the attack contained ammonium nitrate fuel which was not commonly used in previous Sayyaf attacks. Foreigners could have made the bomb or taught Sayyaf members how to assemble an explosive.

One alias “Kamah”, a known bomb maker and said to be the brother of slain ASG leader Sukarah Ingog, has emerged as a person of interest after being caught on a surveillance camera while acting suspiciously outside the church before the blasts.

The bloodshed came two days after the Commission on Elections (Comelec) proclaimed the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) which would create a new Muslim autonomous region and sparked hopes of quelling the separatist violence that has lasted for several decades.

Jolo is a base of the ASG which was not part of the peace agreement with the nation’s largest separatist group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), whose deal with the government in 2014 led to the creation of the Bansamoro region.

And apparently, there have been lapses on the part of soldiers securing the church surroundings considering that Mindanao is under martial law. How were the bombs placed inside the church and at the parking lot in spite of the soldiers’ presence?

We understand that the Bangsamoro Organic Law was created to end the Moro insurgency but government should also be prepared for the opposition of other armed groups or the possibility of a creation of a new faction disputing the BOL.

You just can’t please everybody all the time.

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SHORT BURSTS. For comments or reactions, email firingline@ymail.com or tweet @Side_View. Read current and past issues of this column at http://www.tempo.com.ph/category/opinion/firing-line/

*The opinion of this author is his/hers alone. It is not necessarily the views of Beyond Deadlines.

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Robert Roque Jr.
Robert B. Roque Jr. is a veteran journalist who started out as a correspondent for Manila Bulletin's tabloid TEMPO in 1983. In 1989, At age 27, he rose to become the youngest associate editor of a newspaper of national circulation. In mid-2000, he took the helm of the paper as its editor until his voluntary retirement in 2012. He currently writes a syndicated column for TEMPO, Remate, and Hataw newspapers, and for this site, Beyond Deadlines. A former journalism lecturer at the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Santo Tomas from 1992 to 2002, Roque is also an active member of the Lions Clubs International, the largest service club organization in the world, having served as head of the Philippine Lions (council chairperson) in Lion Year 2011-2012.

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