As Bomb Goes Off in Maguindanao, Diarrhea Forces Arroyo to Cancel Davao Visit

Jun. 24, 2006

By Cheryll D. Fiel

DAVAO CITY — A bomb exploded in Shariff Aguak, a town in Maguindanao, yesterday, June 23, the day President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was supposed to set foot on Mindanao.

The president was scheduled to arrive in this city and travel to some parts of the Southern Mindanao region on Friday but the trip was canceled after she was rushed to the hospital for severe diarrhea.

The bomb, which had been planted in a vehicle parked at the town market, went off as the convoy of Maguindanao governor Andal Ampatuan passed by. Three of Ampatuan’s relatives and two security men died in the blast, while 10 others were injured, wire reports said.

Andy Ampatuan, son of the governor, blamed terrorists for the attempt on the life of his father, who had survived similar attempts since elected governor.

Bombings like these are not new in Mindanao, which is a hotbed of Islamic separatism and terrorism. The military had blamed past bombings on these groups, although some have accused members of the armed forces of carrying out these attacks.

All governors of the Mindanao provinces, as well as the mayors of capital cities and towns, were supposed to meet with Arroyo in Davao City that day to attend the Regional Development Council (RDC) meeting, which the president was supposed to preside. It was not clear whether Ampatuan was on his way to Davao when the incident occurred.

Mindanao officials were supposed to assess in that meeting several factors that hinder the island’s economic growth, the office of the president said on Friday.

The president was also scheduled to travel to Compostela town in Compostela Valley province to attend the inauguration of a project and to meet with her political allies.

Vice-Mayor Luis Bonguyan of Davao City said the cancellation of the trip frustrated officials, especially those who prepared for her visit.

Progressive groups had also planned to greet the president with a protest-rally in Davao. (Cheryll D. Fiel/

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