THE Davao City government has urged Muslims to use hijab instead of niqab and burka, and citizens not to wear masks that cover the face, especially in public places, in wake of a fatal bombing recently that killed 15 people and wounded over 70 others.
Citizens are also discouraged to wear sunglasses, hats, balaclava and face paint, among others, that tend to hide their faces.
A burqa is an outer garment of women in some Islamic traditions to cover their bodies when in public, while a niqab or veil is a cloth that covers the face. The hijab is a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women that covers their head and chest.
Mayor Sarah Duterte Carpio said law enforcement authorities recommended the strict security measure after a man, wearing a bonnet and mouth mask, detonated an improvised explosive device at a night market along Roxas Avenue last September 2.
“The law enforcement officers have expressed their opinion that it would be a good security practice to disallow garments that cover the faces in public places. These garments include hats, sunglasses, facemasks, mouth masks, burqa, face paint and other similar things.”
“I understand the sentiments of our Muslim sisters with regard to the burqa, may I suggest that you wear the hijab, which shows your face or cooperate with the security personnel and show your face if you are wearing the burqa. While it is true that these garments are not disallowed by law, we discourage their use in public places,” Carpio said.
The mayor had offered a P3-million bounty for anyone who can help identify the Davao City bomber.
Authorities have linked the militant group Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters to the attack, but its spokesman, Abu Misry Mama, strongly denied the accusation.
Police and military investigators found fragments of mortar bombs in the area.
Communist rebels negotiating peace with the government have blamed the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and rightist groups opposed to President Rodrigo Duterte’s rule for the daring attack.
Siegfried Red, spokesman for the Communist Party of the Philippines, said the CIA instigated the bombing. “The bombing was carried out and masterminded by no other than the world’s greatest terrorist–the US imperialist hegemony which is threatened by the Duterte government’s positive gestures toward the country’s anti-imperialist revolutionary forces and Duterte’s consistent pronouncements against US intervention in Philippine affairs,” Red said in a statement sent to the regional newspaper Mindanao Examiner.
“The heinous attack in downtown Davao City, home to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, was clearly the handiwork of peace saboteurs, ultra-rightists AFP [Armed Forces of the Philippines] cliques and big drug lords–all anti-Duterte forces that conspire with US imperialism to subvert the Duterte government. The September 2 bombing is wrought by the bloody hands of the US war machinery’s black operations,” he added.
Red said the attack had the signature of the CIA.
“It is hardly coincidental that initial investigations have found similarities in the explosion device used in Friday’s bombing to the explosives found in the wreck of CIA agent Michael Meiring’s hotel room in Davao City and the ones used in the Davao International Airport and the Sasa Wharf bombings in March and April 2003 respectively,” he noted.
Red was referring to the American who was wounded in an accidental explosion while he was assembling improvised bombs at Evergreen Hotel in May 2002.
Meiring, who had links to Muslim rebel groups in Mindanao, was rescued by US agents from the Davao Medical Mission Hospital and smuggled out of the country in a private plane.
Red said, “Duterte himself has been a witness to how the US terrorist network and its puppet fascist reactionary wreaked havoc in Davao City more than a decade ago. Disgruntled junior officers of the AFP divulged that the US-Arroyo regime masterminded the [previous]bombings that killed 38 and wounded 180 people.”
The Abu Sayyaf has claimed responsibility for the bombing but later on denied that it aas behind the attack. It earlier threatened to attack military and civilian targets and said the Abu Sayyaf will bring the war to Duterte’s soldiers.
Red also alleged that the CIA is backing the Abu Sayyaf to stir anti-Muslim sentiments in the Philippines. “A CIA-backed terrorist group was quick to admit its responsibility in the bombing, a scripted rejoinder to sow further enmity against majority of Muslims who want just peace. US imperialism has always employed terror tactics to stir anti-Muslim sentiments and prelude its greater military intervention in countries that challenge its dominance and exploitation,” he said.
Red added that Washington and its rightist and militarist cliques in the Philippines are opposed to Duterte’s peace talks with the communist rebel group New People’s Army and its allies, as well as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“Clearly, US imperialism and its rightist and militarist cliques in the country are not happy with how the Duterte government is shaping its pro-peace governance as shown in the great strides in the peace negotiations between the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front, and as demonstrated by Duterte’s peace overtures with the MNLF and MILF,” he said.
There was no immediate statement from the US Embassy or the Philippine government on these allegations but Filipino journalists also received text messages in their mobile phones, saying the CIA was behind the bombing to sabotage Duterte’s peace efforts.