Roadside bombs destroy bridge in Maguindanao
John Unson (The Philippine Star) - May 13, 2014 - 12:14pm

MAGUINDANAO, Philippines - The two roadside bombs bandits used in Monday’s deadly ambush of an Army convoy in Datu Unsay town in the province destroyed a vital bridge and officials need to spend at least P400,000 for the repair of its shattered railings.

Engineer Hadji James Mlok, chief of Maguindanao’s Second District Engineering Office, said eight unsuspecting construction workers doing repair works underneath the Meta Bridge even got trapped in the crossfire, but escaped unhurt by crawling away from the scene while soldiers and their ambushers traded shots.

The target of the ambush, Col. Jener Del Rosario, survived the bombing unscathed, but two of his escorts were not as lucky. Three other enlisted soldiers were wounded in the blast.

Del Rosario, commanding officer of the Army’s 1st Mechanized Brigade based in nearby Shariff Aguak town, said the outlawed Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) was responsible for the ambush.

“The military eventually cleared the eight innocent laborers from any involvement in the ambush,” Mlok said.

Unidentified bombers destroyed last year using improvised explosive devices a vital bridge connecting the town proper of Datu Piang, also in Maguindanao, to the Cotabato-Gen. Santos Highway, causing serious retrogression of the town’s fledgling economy.

Mlok said they will have the damaged railings of the Meta Bridge repaired using office funds.

“I’m appealing to these groups fighting the government to spare vital infrastructures that help make the lives of ordinary Moro, lumad and Christian folks become convenient,” an emotional Mlok told The Star.

He said his office needs no less than P400,000 for the repair of the Meta Bridge.

Mlok said it was just fortunate that the powerful explosions did not affect the major parts of the bridge that would require its closure to traffic.

“It will remain open to traffic,” he pointed out.

Col. Dickson Hermoso, spokesman of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division, said military units in the surroundings of Maguindanao’s Datu Saudi, Datu Unsay, Guindulungan, and Datu Piang towns have been directed to tightly secure bridges vulnerable to IED attacks.

Hermoso said efforts to protect vital infrastructures in the towns where there are BIFF forces will be coordinated closely with the ceasefire committee of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

The government and the MILF are bound to help each other address security problems in potential flashpoint areas under the July 1997 Agreement on General Cessation of Hostilities.

BANGSAMORO ISLAMIC FREEDOM FIGHTERS DATU PIANG DATU SAUDI DATU UNSAY DEL ROSARIO DICKSON HERMOSO ENGINEER HADJI JAMES MLOK MAGUINDANAO META BRIDGE MLOK
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