LANANG, DAVAO CITY: President Benigno Aquino 3rd is pointing at three groups, among them the Abu Sayyaf, who are likely responsible for the recent bombings in Mindanao.
Speaking to reporters, the President said the three groups that have “joined forces” to mount attacks and derail the peace process.
“He said the groups “are desperate to obstruct the peace process in Mindanao.” Reports earlier said the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), a splinter group of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), claimed responsibility for the roadside bombing in Maguindanao on Wednesday that wounded at least seven soldiers.
Military intelligence meanwhile said the Abu Sayyaf and some MILF units have joined forces in Albarka, Basilan.
The President said he is “not at liberty to tell you all of the details in the operation to neutralize and capture all of these people wanted by the government.”
He added that he will meet again with the Cabinet security cluster in Malacanang.
“There is a theory that all of these bombings are related to that to lessen the pressure of ongoing follow-up operations against these BIFF elements that attacked North Cotabato,” Aquino said.
The President said rewards will be offered for information leading to the arrest of suspects in the bombing incidents.
“Part of what I will be appealing for later on is greater citizen involvement in detecting suspicious either individuals or activities to increase,” he said.
Asked if the attacks could spill over to major cities in the south, Aquino said, “They have aspirational plans. There are always reports of this intention, Davao in particular, but they are prevented by the strict security here.”
CATHERINE S. VALENTE