MALACAÑANG on Sunday vowed that there will be no let-up until the perpetrators in last Friday’s bombing that killed two and injured more than 50 others in Zamboanga City are brought to justice as President Benigno Aquino 3rd himself went to the besieged southern city to check the status of security there.
According to Presidential Communications Secretary Herminio Coloma Jr., Aquino flew to Zamboanga and arrived at 10:30 a.m. at Edwin Andrews Airbase with Defense secretary Voltaire Gazmin, Interior and Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas 2nd, Social Welfare Secretary Corazon Soliman, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad Jr. and Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Gen. Gregorio Catapang.
“We join the nation in strongly condemning the bomb attack in Zamboanga City that left two people killed and wounded 50 others. The President is now in Zamboanga to receive security briefings and assessment from the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces. He will also personally visit the families of the victims who died, were wounded and those who are still in the hospital,” Coloma said over state-run Radyo ng Bayan.
The Palace official added that the PNP is following up some leads that could pinpoint the location of the suspects.
“There will be no let-up in going after those involved until they are made answerable to the law,” Coloma said.
In August 2013, violence erupted in Zamboanga City when hundreds of followers of Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) Chairman Nur Misuari attempted to overrun the local government and raise their flag. Scores of casualties were recorded on both sides but Misuari managed to escape.
The MNLF faction of Misuari was against the peace agreement between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, saying they were not consulted on the matter.
Also, it argued that a peace agreement signed in 1996 should have been fully implemented first.
It was not immediately known if last Friday’s bombing was the handiwork of remnants of Misuari’s group or whether the terrorist Abu Sayyaf Group was behind it.
Nevertheless, Coloma said, the intelligence community has been placed on alert to guard against similar attacks.
“The government ensures that the there is focus and strict vigilance by the entire intelligence community and that the Armed Forces and the national police are ready to thwart any threat to national security,” he added.
A car bomb blew up in front of the Guiwan bus terminal and Red Palm Inn last Friday. On Saturday morning, police said the death toll had risen to two, with 52 wounded.
Security was tightened in the city after the bombing, with police and soldiers conducting round-the-clock checkpoints.
Officials, however, advised the public not to panic and report any suspicious movements of individuals or groups in all areas in the city.