ELECTION WATCH/ BREAKING NEWS
May 21, 2007 – 12:20pm
A lawyer and convenor of the multi-sectoral group the Initiatives for Peace in Mindanao (InPeace), Beverly Selim-Musni, pointed to the Macapagal-Arroyo government as being behind the bombing which hit the Weena Bus Terminal in Cotabato City last May 18, 11 a.m.
Two children were killed and some 30 people injured when the explosion hit the terminal around 11 a.m. on Friday, May 18. Police identified a couple, who they linked to the Jemaah Islamiyah, as the main suspects in the bombing. Police blamed the same group for another bombing in Tacurong City on April 9 that killed three people.
“The bombing of the Weena Bus Terminal in Cotabato is an obvious ploy to draw away the heat from electoral fraud happening in the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Why now, when all eyes are on ARMM? Why bring up the terrorist threat again in the heat of the election canvassing? This is an obvious diversion,” asks Musni.
As in the 2004 elections, the ARMM has again been the focus of attention. Elections were suspended in 13 municipalities in Lanao del Sur. In Maguindanao, the 12-0 sweep of Team Unity (TU) in the senatorial elections, which defied the trend in most provinces, attracted much attention.
A teacher who was a member of the Board of Election Inspectors alleged that they were forced, under heavy guard, to write the names of TU candidates in ballots even before the polling precincts opened. The National Movement for Free Elections (Namfrel) also complained that local Comelec officials refused to turn-over their copy of election returns in Maguindanao.
“With these high incidents of fraud, the bombing is most likely part of the state-sponsored machinery that is perpetrating fraud and fear in ARMM,” said Musni.
She recalled the findings of the Mindanao Truth Commission in 2004, which linked state-sponsored elements to 37 mystery bombings in Mindanao. These were allegedly meant to justify the all out war on terror in Mindanao.
“Peace advocates all over Mindanao condemn the bombing which brutally sacrificed innocent lives in order to hide the dirty machinations of the Arroyo administration in its desperate effort to cling to power. Mrs. Arroyo indirectly or directly is responsible for the deaths that have occurred here in Mindanao,” said Musni.(Bulatlat.com)