Image grabbed from Reuters video
ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines – The Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) has denied reports of masterminding the explosion in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat on Tuesday (August 28).
The group’s spokesperson Abu Misri Mama said in a phone interview with UNTV on Thursday (August 30), it was just an allegation from the Armed Forces of the Philippine (AFP) to solicit sympathy from the residents.
“Ang pagsabog doon sa Isulan, Sultan Kudarat, wala kaming kinalaman doon…Hindi pa kuntento ang gobyerno na peaceful na ang Mindano dahil andito pa kami kaya iyon. Nagpasabog sila, kahit na may mga sundalo na nasugatan para mapaniwalaan ng mga tao na kami ang nagpasabog pero wala kaming kinalaman doon. Pangalawa, gusto nila na ma-extend ang martial law dahil di naman mae-extend iyon kung walang dahilan,” Mama said.
The BIFF also denied the involvement of Abu Turaife in the explosion contrary to earlier reports from the AFP.
But the authorities maintained that the group was the one behind the blast with the intention of disrupting the peace process in Mindanao after the passing of the Bangsamoro Organic Law.
Meanwhile, the local government of Sultan Kudarat expressed favor in extending the martial law declaration in Mindanao following the explosion.
“Pabor po ako sa extention ng martial law. Sa bayan ko yung peace and order lalong gumanda tapos at is kami na may martial law maraming pagbabago,” said Mayor Maritess Pallasigue.
Based on the latest report from the AFP, the total number of fatalities from the explosion has reached three after the comatose victim who was struck by shrapnel in the head, died in the hospital.
The militant group, meanwhile, said they will carry on with their fight, with or without martial law.
“Kung kami ang tatanungin, sa martial law wala kaming pakialam sapagkat kahit na martial law, martial law, martial law pa nandito pa rin kami lalaban pa rin kami,” said Mama.
Pallasigue assured that all affected residents were provided with the necessary assistance from the LGU.
Heightened security measures are also in place following the incident. – Marje Pelayo (with reports from Dante Amento)