ARMM gov't urges end to speculations about Basilan roadside bombing

John Unson - Philstar.com

COTABATO CITY, Philippines - Officials on Saturday urged residents of Isabela City to refrain from speculating on Thursday’s roadside bombing that killed four and injured more than ten others.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) on Saturday presided over a dialogue with political and religious leaders in Basilan in a bid to pool together their efforts in preventing a repeat of the incident.

Isabela City is under Administrative Region 9, but is located in Basilan, which is inside ARMM’s territory.

“Let’s give investigators enough time to identify the culprits and determine their real motive for the bombing,” Hataman said.

Hataman is the presiding chair of the ARMM’s regional peace and order council, which has jurisdiction over Basilan, one of the five component provinces of the autonomous region.

Stories and text messages have been spreading since Friday, purporting that the roadside bombing was meant to kill Isabela City Vice Mayor Abdulbaki Ajibon, who is to aspire for the city’s mayoral post during next year’s local elections.

Ajibon had survived a roadside bombing in 2012 near the scene of Thursday’s attack.

He will contest the bid for Isabela’s mayoral post of now outgoing Basilan Gov. Jum Akbar, who is now in her third and last term as provincial governor.

Akbar, widow of the late Basilan Rep. Wahab Akbar, was earlier reported to have confirmed her plan to run for mayor of Isabela City during the 2016 local elections.

The provincial police director of Basilan, Senior Superintendent Oscar Nantes, and Hataman had both appealed to local folks to refrain from speculating on Thursday’s bombing and to give investigators enough time to establish the true angle of the incident.

“We are calling on potential witnesses to help in our ongoing investigation,” Nantes said.

Ajibon survived the attack unscathed, but two of his security men, riding his pick-up trailing behind his van, were not as lucky.

Two others, an employee of the Isabela City local government unit and a former barangay official, who were near the spot where the improvised explosive device was planted, were also killed in the powerful blast.

Hataman had has asked military units in Basilan to help the provincial police secure Isabela City to ensure the safety of the local communities.

Thursday’s bombing was the worst ever improvised explosive device (IED) attack in Isabela City, some 30 kilometers from Lamitan City, the capital of the island province.

“Spreading unfounded stories about the incident can only cause confusion and uncertainty among people,” Hataman said.












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