Otso Diretso candidates Rep. Gary Alejano and Chel Diokno raised questions over the administration’s handling of the security situation in Mindanao despite it being allotted billions of pesos worth of intelligence funds and placing the region under military rule.
This amid the spate of fatal bombings in Mindanao—in a Cotabato City mall which killed two persons, and hurt 34 persons; in a Jolo, Sulu cathedral which left 22 dead and injured more than a hundred individuals; and most recently, in a Zamboanga mosque that claimed lives of 2 and injured 4 others.
Guesting at Vice President Leni’s weekly radio show BISErbisyong LENI over DZXL RMN 558, Alejano said these bombings could have been prevented if administration implemented more stringent protective measures in the said provinces.
The former Marines soldier, who saw action during his years of combat duty in conflict-torn Mindanao provinces, said this based on the Defense department’s statement that the government had monitored threats of bombing as early as August last year.
“Doon sa Jolo bombing, sinabi ng ating gobyerno, August of last year pa lang alam na nila; mayroon na silang information. At may budget ho tayo—napakalaki—hindi lamang sa ating Armed Forces o sa PNP, sa opisina mismo ng ating Presidente, malaki ang confidential and intelligence funds diyan,” Alejano said.
“And the fact the nalusutan, kahit ano pang sabihin ng ating gobyerno, I understand na nagta-trabaho ang ating military, ang ating pulis, pero the fact na may sumabog, nalusutan,” he added.
For his part, human rights lawyer Chel Diokno expressed concern over the continued violence in Mindanao despite the administration seeking for the extension of martial law in the region a number of times.
Diokno is one of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG) lawyers representing lumad teachers and students asking the Supreme Court (SC) to declare the third extension of martial law in Mindanao as unconstitutional.
He said the plight of lumads facing harassment in Mindanao represented the real image of martial law in the region.
“Talagang nalulungkot kami sa pag-extend ng martial law dahil ang daming natatamaan, lalong lalo na iyong mga lumad, ang mga [indigenous peoples], ang mga mahihirap—sila iyong totoong mukha—sabihin natin—ng martial law sa Mindanao,” Diokno said.