DAVAO CITY, Philippines — At least 19 people were injured in separate incidents of explosions on Sunday evening, December 22 in Cotabato and Maguindanao.
In an interview with Davao Today, Armed Forces Western Mindanao Command spokesperson Major Arvin Encinas said 13 persons, including 8 soldiers, were wounded in the explosion in Cotabato City.
The explosion occurred around 6 pm along Sinsuat Avenue, and a few meters near the Immaculate Conception Cathedral.
Two separate explosions in the town of Libungan in Cotabato province injured five people.
Another explosion happened in the town of Upi, Maguindanao, injuring one.
All wounded are now in stable condition, Encinas said.
Encinas said they cannot pinpoint the perpetrators of the bombings as they await results of the investigation.
However, Encinas said, “we do not discount the possibility that the perpetrators are the group of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF)”.
North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco strongly condemned the series of explosions in different areas in the province.
“I vehemently condemn these attacks on our fellow Cotabateños. Let us keep in mind that these terrorist acts aim to instill fear and to spread panic” said Catamco in a statement posted in the Provincial Government of Cotabato Facebook page.
The governor appealed on her constituents to remain calm and stay vigilant.
“The Provincial Government will be closely monitoring the situation alongside the PNP, AFP and concerned local government units. We will extend all the necessary support to all our partners in peace,” she added.
The bombings in Cotabato and Maguindanao happened days before the expiration of the Martial Law in Mindanao on December 31, and the approaching first anniversary of the last year’s blast in South Seas Mall in Cotabato City that killed two people and injured 30 also on December 31.
Mindanao was first placed under martial rule by President Rodrigo Duterte following the Marawi siege on May 2017, and has been extended by Congress for three times. Security forces recommended for its extensions due to “continuing threats” of groups like the BIFF and New People’s Army (NPA).
Despite the bombings, Duterte pushed through his schedule on Monday to lead the distribution of certificates of land ownership award (CLOA) to agrarian reform beneficiaries in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) in Cotabato City. (davaotoday.com)