By Hannah Torregoza
Former Senator Manuel “Mar” Roxas II has called on authorities and the Muslim community leaders to exhaust all efforts at preventing a religious war from spilling over following the series of bombings in Mindanao.
Roxas made the appeal as he stressed the importance of having both sides—that of the government and the stakeholders in the peace process in Mindanao—agree to peaceful efforts at resolving decades old armed conflict in the southern part of the Philippines.
“Para sa akin, ang aking panawagan sa lahat ng panig ay wag na wag nating hayaan na lumaki pa ito sa isang religious war (On my part, I call on all sides to prevent this from becoming a full-blown religious war),” Roxas said in a recent interview in Antipolo City.
“Magkakapatid tayong mga Pilipino, iba ang ating mga relihiyon na sinasamba pero magkakapatid tayo (We Filipinos are brothers and sisters, even if we have different religious beliefs, we are still siblings),” he said.
“At ang mga relihiyon na kinabibilangan natin, parehas nagsasabi na para sa kapayaan, para sa generosity, para sa pakikipag-kapwa sa ating mga kababayan. So huwag po nating hayaan na lumaki pa ito o lumalim pa ang hidwaan at panatilihin natin ang brotherhood natin ng pagiging Pilipino (And the religion we believe in pursues and supports peace, generosity, and camaraderie. So let’s not allow the animosity to grow and to deepen and instead let our brotherhood as Filipinos thrive),” added Roxas.
Roxas expressed belief that with the government already pushing for Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), the Muslim community will fully cooperate with the government in going after and prosecuting the terrorists groups who launched the twin explosions that rocked a cathedral in Jolo, Sulu.
“I am sure, even the BOL members o magiging (who would become) assembly members, ayaw nila ng terorismo kasi papano uunlad ang kanilang lugar kung nagkakasabugan, nagkakaputukan (do not like terrorism too, because how can their city develop if there are always bombings and strife),” he pointed out.
“So pareho po an gating layon na magkaroon ng kapayapaan para sa ating kasaganaan (We have similar advocacies and that is to achieve long-term peace for our prosperity),” he said.
Roxas, likewise, said he believes the government is capable of finding a solution in going after the terrorist groups particularly the infamous Abu Sayaff Group, saying the state can use its full force to eliminate them.
“Government forces have enough funds—intelligence funds—to use to go after them. That goes by the billions. They can conduct efficient detective work, investigative work,” he pointed out.
In an earlier interview, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año attributed the church blast in Jolo, Sulu to the ASG and Islamic State (IS)-linked foreign fighters who are seeking to elevate conflict in a “religious war.”
Año, likewise, dispelled speculations the bombings were linked to the BOL plebiscite.
Authorities said the two dismembered bodies among the 22 casualties in the Jolo blast that have not yet been identified nor recovered by any family member likely belong to an Indonesian couple who were suicide bombers and had links with the ISIS.