Quote for the Week..

"Why are the country’s political leaders quick to act on amending the Constitution to change nationalistic provisions for the benefit of foreigners or to extend their terms of office but are allergic to amending the Constitution to address the people’s aspirations for self-determination?" - Marvic Leonen,Dean of the UP College of Law, in a keynote address delivered at the 1st International Solidarity Conference on Mindanao; March 16-18, 2009 in Davao City, Philippines.


Saturday, May 31, 2008

US assisting RP in Zambo blast probe

United States Ambassador Kristie Kenney Friday said her government was helping Philippine authorities in the investigation of Thursday's explosion here that killed two people and wounded more than 20 others.

Police authorities tagged Moro rebels as responsible for the blast.

"Certainly, (we are extending help). For us, we share any information (we gathered) and our experts could help look at the crime scene," she said.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer on Friday saw some US soldiers frequenting the building of the Air Materiel Wing Savings and Loan Association (AMWSLAI) in the village of Sta. Maria here, where an improvised explosive device ripped through the office of the US-funded Alliance for Mindanao Off-Grid Renewable Energy (AMORE) and that of Representative Ma. Isabel Climaco.

The building is across the Edwin Andrews Air Base, where most of the victims were waiting to hitch a ride aboard a military C-130 transport plane for Manila.

Asked whether the target was the AMORE office, Kenney said she could not issue statements yet.

"I don't know, it's impossible to speculate, (but the act) it's inconceivable. I don't know the motive or any more about the details," she said.

Kenney said the US government was hopeful that Philippine authorities would be able to identify the culprits and bring them before the bar of justice.

"I am hopeful again that very quickly the long arm of the authorities will find those responsible so that we will be able to get on with our work," she said.

Chief Superintendent Jaime Caringal, Western Mindanao police director, said the help of the US forces sped up their post-blast investigation.

"That's why we were able to gather many data from the blast site," Caringal said.

Caringal also said they suspected that the target of the attack was the AMORE office or "personnel in uniform waiting for a free lift on the C-130 aircraft."

"AMORE is a US government project and they are helping in developing some areas particularly conflict-affected areas and we know that some groups are rejecting the presence and projects of AMORE for reasons that these are encroaching on their places," Caringal said.

But he admitted that the fact that the bomb was placed among the baggage of those waiting to hitch a ride on the military transport plane also made them suspect that it was aimed at soldiers milling around the base.

He said it might even be possible that the bomb was meant for the C-130 itself.

"One clear statement here is that the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) Special Operations Group that merged with the Abu Sayyaf Group in Basilan was making a strong, powerful and loud statement," Caringal said.

He identified those allegedly behind the explosion as MILF leader Malista Malangka and Abu Sayyaf leader Puruji Indama.

He did not say how the police came up with the conclusion but added that the bomb was made of TNT.

"It was the same type of explosive used in previous bombings here including the simultaneous attack at the Mega Cathedral and the office of the Department of Foreign Affairs (in April)," he said.

Caringal also said they were still investigating the man arrested shortly after the blast. He did not release the man's identity.

Khaled Musa, MILF deputy information chief, denounced Caringal for linking them to the explosion.

"This is a serious allegation against the MILF. This is an irresponsible statement. The MILF is a partner of the government in the search for genuine peace in Mindanao," Musa said.

Eid Kabalu, MILF civil military affairs chief, called on the military and the police to conduct a deeper probe of Thursday's bomb explosion "instead of issuing baseless allegations."

Kabalu also branded Caringal's statement as the "height of irresponsibility."

"What he could have done is to wait for the result of the investigation," he said.

Kabalu said the police and the military have barely started their investigation but they already have a fixed suspect.

"How come they determined that so soon?" he said.

Kabalu said the latest incident could be part of the plot of a third-party, which do not want the peace process to resume.

"We have been warning the government about this," he said.

The peace talks between the government and the MILF hit a snag over the issue of territory in December.

The government has been insisting that the future of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE) will be determined by a plebiscite to be held for the purpose.

The MILF has resented that position and decided to pull out of the negotiating table.

Lately, Kuala Lumpur pulled out of the International Monitoring Team (IMT) because of dismay over the progress of the talks.(Julie Alipala, Allan Nawal, Aquiles Zonio; INQ.net)

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