Why Do They Target the Innocent Civilians?
On January 27, 2019 the whole nation was shocked to hear the news that the Cathedral of Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Jolo, Sulu was rocked by two explosions which resulted to the deaths of at least 21 people and injured 111 others.
It was supposed to be a peaceful Sunday morning and the victims were there to hear mass officiated by Bishop Angelito Rendon Lampon when the first IED (or improvised explosive device) was detonated at around 8:58 am while the Second Reading was being read. The security officers (mostly from the Armed Forces of the Philippines) who were detailed somewhere near the vicinity were quick to respond to the blast. However, as they rushed to enter the Cathedral, the second bomb was detonated and exploded right at the entrance just 12 – 15 seconds after the first explosion and so they too, ended up as hapless victims.
The explosions were said to have ripped even the walls and ceilings of the Cathedral. So, it was unlikely that anyone could have survived. But, with so many lifeless bodies inside the Cathedral, the perpetrators succeeded in sowing terror among the people. There was so much outrage over the incident, especially so that it was done in a place of worship. This prompted the government to order Jolo, Sulu on a total lockdown to ensure that the entrances and exists prevented the entry of foreign terror elements.
But, just three days after the Jolo, Sulu explosions, another IED was thrown at the Mosque in Zamboanga City killing 2 people and wounding 4 others around 20 minutes past midnight on January 20, 2019. The Mosque was at Logoy Diutay, Barangay Talon-talon and the victims were mostly Muslim religious leaders from Basilan who were sleeping when the explosion occurred.
The bombings took place a week after a regional plebiscite voted to ratify the Bangsamoro Organic Law that will grant wider self-rule to the Muslim minority in Mindanao. There were many theories and speculations as to the real motive of the perpetrators, but up to now the the result of the investigations remained inconclusive because one of the 4 main suspects, Kammah Pae who was arrested denied any involvement and insisted that it was a just a case of mistaken identity . However, names of terrorist groups have cropped up like the Islamic State, Indonesian Suicide bombers and the newly formed Ajang-ajang, which is said to be a faction of the ASG. These extremists have no fear, no mercy, no shame, no conscience and no respect for the law at all given the fact that Mindanao was placed under Martial Law.
But, the bombings of the two sacred places have somewhat shaken the otherwise volatile relationship between the Christians and Muslims. Anger was at its highest level. It was a form of attack and counter-attack. Filipinos killing Filipinos. And then, the cycle continues. Many were confused of the different stories that came out. There were warnings of revenge, of new targets, of attacks and of civil war spread thru text messages. Concerned citizens even posted at the social media guidelines for civilians during these dangerous times. But then again, isn’t this what these perpetrators really want to happen?
The police, however, could not relate the bombings to the plebiscite on the BOL. They insisted that a new group of terrorists is out to destroy the efforts of the government to end the cycle of war and destruction that Muslim Mindanao has suffered for more than a hundred years. It is out to cultivate a culture of violence to gain control. If this is the case, where lies the future of the government’s peace efforts?
But, if these terrorists are indeed, fighting for their cause (whether religious, ideology, recognition or otherwise) why do they kill innocent people? Why target those who were merely praying at the church? Why bomb the churches and mosques? More so, why do they want the peace efforts to fail? Why do they want the BOL to fail?
If their intention is to fight, then they should face the government troops to win their war. It is cowardice to drag the innocent civilians who have nothing to do with them. Sadly, these terrorists do not even know what they are fighting for. It’s a fight all their own. But, they can’t go on with this killing rampage. These bombings have to be stopped.
However, revenge is not the answer. Instead of being divided, the Christians and Muslims should reject hatred and pray for solidarity. It is best that they join forces to put an end to this violent extremism. They must help the government in safeguarding the lives, property and honor of the people and punish all the perpetrators. Mindanao, with all its rich natural resources and opportunities deserve a peaceful co-existence of people no matter what their ethnic, religious, cultural or ideological differences may be.
The terrorists may be happy for successfully bombing Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City. But, one day from now, they will surely face a more dreadful end of their useless struggle.