By Hannah Torregoza
Detained opposition Senator Leila de Lima on Monday backed calls for an independent investigation into the bombing incidents in Jolo, Sulu and Zamboanga City, saying the hasty pronouncements coming from President Rodrigo Duterte himself is raising doubts as to the accuracy of the possible motive of the perpetrators.
De Lima made the call after Jolo Mayor Kherkar Tan reiterated his call for an independent probe by human rights groups into the incident saying that families of the victims who either died or were wounded in the blasts also refused to believe claims by the President and other officials that Indonesian suicide bombers may have carried out the attack.
“There is something more to this than meets the eye as bereaved families raise doubts on the suicide bomber theory of the government and no less than the City Mayor of Jolo is calling for an independent investigation for fear of cover-up and whitewash,” De Lima said in her latest statement from the Philippine National Police where she is currently detained.
“They are from the area and understand the place; their doubts must be valid,” she said.
De Lima was referring to the twin explosions at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Cathedral in Jolo last January 27 where 22 people were killed and more than 100 others wounded. Two days later, a grenade was thrown at a mosque in Barangay Talon-talon in Zamboanga City, killing two Islamic preachers.
“It is the height of irony that the bombings happened at the time when Mindanao has been in the grip of Martial Law, the Bangsamoro Organic Law is under plebiscite, and the Cathedral in Jolo has been walled by security forces for several months prior to the bombing,” De Lima noted.
“Kaya sinusuportahan ko po ang panawagan sa isang hiwalay at malayang imbestigasyon sa nangyaring pambobomba sa Jolo at Zamboanga. Kailangang lumabas ang katotohanan. Maraming namatay at naulila at ang insidente ay nagdulot ng lubhang pangamba sa publiko (That’s why I support the call for an independent investigation into the bombing in Jolo and Zamboanga. The truth should come out. There were so many people who died and were orphaned due to the incident and sowed fear on the public),” said De Lima.
“An act of violence is one too many. I urge the discerning public to also monitor the situation in Mindanao. We must always demand for the truth against the backdrop of lies and fake news by this deceptive regime. We cannot all too often be taken for a ride,” she emphasized.