By Ellson Quismorio
Deputy Speaker, Surigao del Sur 2nd district Rep. Johnny Pimentel wants to know how the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) has been utilizing its intelligence funds amid the Islamic extremists’ seeming preference to target the country.
“We have to face the fact that Islamic militants have chosen our country as one of their targets and that is why we hold the military responsible for these tragic events,” Pimentel said on Tuesday.
The House leader was reacting to the alleged suicide bombing in Barangay Kajatian, Indanan, Sulu on September 8. Reports said their was only one perpetrator.
“We have provided hundreds of millions of pesos for their (AFP) intelligence funds to gather information regarding terrorist groups and their plans. Eh saan napunta tong intel funds? (Where did these intel funds go?) How come this is happening?” Pimentel asked.
Incidentally, the 2020 National Expenditure Program (NEP) or proposed national budget is currently under scrutiny at the House of Representatives. Some P4.1 trillion has been earmarked for total government spending next year, up from 2019’s national budget of P3.757 trillion.
It can be argued that the wave of extremism began with the ISIS-inspired Maute Group’s attack and subsequent occupation of Marawi City, Lanao del Sur on May 23, 2017. It took five months for the military and police to drive out the terrorists.
Some solons also viewed the incident as an intelligence failure from law enforcement authorities.
For 2020, the AFP and Philippine National Police (PNP) have been allocated intelligence funds of P1.7 billion and P806 million, respectively.
Another Deputy Speaker in Basilan lone district Rep. Mujiv Hataman denounced the suicide bombing.
“Ikinalulungkot ko na nangyari ito sa panahon na tayo ay nagtra-trabaho lahat para sa kapayapaan at sa pagsulong ng Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Sadya sigurong marami pang mga elementong gustong sirain ang ating magandang simula. Sila ay mga kalaban ng kapayapaan at magtulungan po tayo upang sila ay pigilan,” he said.
(I am saddened that this happened even as we are working hard toward peace and the success of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. There are still many elements who want to ruin our good start. They are the enemies of peace, let’s cooperate in defeating them.)
“Although there were no other fatalities in the attack other than the bomber, it nevertheless put many lives in danger…I also call on the government to act on this swiftly and with decisive efficiency,” Hataman said.
On Saturday morning, the Isulan public market in Sultan Kudarat was also bombed, injuring seven people.