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Bangsamoro Transition Commission staff among fatalities in IED blast

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Bangsamoro Transition Commission staff among fatalities in IED blast
Soldiers of the 6th Infantry Division inspect vehicles entering Cotabato City. Military presence at the checkpoints has been increased after an IED blast at a mall in Cotabato City on Monday.
John Unson

COTABATO CITY, Philippines — One of the two people killed in an IED blast in Cotabato City on Monday was an employee of a commission that authored the law meant to end decades of secessionist strife in the country's restive south.

The bombing near the entrance of the Southseas Mall along Don Rufino Alonzo Avenue left 37 others wounded, five of them minors.

Jonathan Tasic Torribiano, a driver of Melanio Ulama of the Bangsamoro Transition Commission, and Mariam Ulama Cali died from shrapnel wounds from the blast.

Ulama is a timuay (chieftain) in central Mindanao's indigenous Teduray people, which is involved in the peace process between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation.

In an informal press briefing after the bombing, Mayor Cynthia Guiani-Sayadi urged authorities to identify the culprits and prosecute them to the fullest extent of law.  

Guiani-Sayadi described as “an act of terror and an affront to humanity” the bomb attack, the city’s worst since she became mayor in 2016.

RELATED: IED blast in Cotabato City kills 2, injures 20

Commissioners in the MILF-led BTC were saddened by the demise of Torribiano, whom they said was a friendly and courteous employee of the commission.

The BTC, comprised of representatives from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and from the government, crafted the draft of Republic Act 11054, also known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

The measure was premised on two compacts between Malacañang and the MILF — the 2013 Framework Agreement on Bangsamoro and the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on Bangsamoro.

The office of the BTC is less than 200 meters away from the premises of the Southseas Mall, where the improvised explosive device packed with nails went off.

Superintendent Rolly Octavio, director of the Cotabato City police, said Tuesday that investigators are still trying to determine who are responsible for the IED attack.

The Army-led Joint Task Force Kutawato and intelligence units of the 6th Infantry Division are now helping investigate the incident, he said.

Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao said Tuesday he has requested Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares of the Police Regional Office-ARMM to help in the investigation.

The 32-hectare capitol of ARMM is located in Cotabato City, less than two kilometers northeast of the People’s Palace where Guiani-Sayadi holds office.

"The bombing was an act of terror, nothing more nothing less. We in the regional government wish that the wheel of justice roll over its perpetrators sooner than expected," said Hataman, chairman of the ARMM regional peace and order council.

"Let us refrain from speculating on the incident and avoid doing reckless commentaries and expression of unbelievable opinions about it on Facebook. Let us give authorities enough time to finish their investigation on the incident," Hataman said.

RELATED: Group cautions vs shortcuts in probe of Cotabato City mall bombing

The BOL, if ratified via the January 21 plebiscite in its proposed core territory, shall pave the way for ARMM’s replacement with an MILF-led Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

The Commission on Elections will administer the plebiscite in all of ARMM’s five provinces — Maguindanao, Lanao del Sur, Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi —and in parts of Lanao del Norte and North Cotabato and in the cities Cotabato and Isabela in Basilan.

In a statement released Friday night, Al Haj Murad Ebrahim, MILF chairman, called the bombing "atrocious and inhuman" and called on "concerned authorities to sincerely and thoroughly investigate on this evil act."

Major Gen. Cirilito Sobejana of the Army’s 6th Infantry Division said Tuesday that more soldiers have been sent to man checkpoints in Maguindanao’s adjoining Sultan Kudarat and Datu Odin Sinsuat towns, which lead into the city.

BANGSAMORO TRANSITION COMMISSION

COTABATO CITY

IMPROVISED EXPLOSIVE DEVICES

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