GOVERNMENT has taken measures to prevent a “grand plan” by the Abu Sayyaf to start a sectarian war in Mindanao but still, Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde said they need all the help they can get from the public to foil such evil plot.
“Their objective is to create chaos and terror, they want Christians to react if they bomb churches and other Christian targets. This is why these terror acts should be stopped and we need all the information we can get from the public,” the PNP chief said.
He was reacting to a question on the Abu Sayyaf’s apparent effort to trigger a “religious war” when they filmed gunmen desecrating a Catholic church at the start of the 5-month old Marawi City siege; an incident involving a bomb-laden truck in Lamitan, Basilan last year which killed several militiamen and civilians and lately, the bombing of the Jolo Cathedral which left 23 persons dead and 95 wounded.
Gen. Albayalde said fighting between Christians and Muslims in Mindanao are not new since they became infamous in the 70s when military-backed Christian “Ilagas” fought Moro National Liberation Front guerrillas.
“It has happened before in Mindanao, the fighting between Christians and Muslims. Their battlecry during those days is if you can do this, we can also do that,” he explained.
However, he said they don’t want a repeat of those heavy fighting in the South during the Marcos presidency.
“This is the reason why we need the help of the community in fighting this threat. The local populace will always know who’s the stranger in their area. In case somebody buys something in a store, say vinegar but can’t speak your language, or speaks a language he or she only knows, please report to us immediately,” he said.
He was referring to two suspected Indonesian bombers who were believed to have carried out the suspected “suicide bombing” at the Jolo Cathedral last January 27. The PNP chief said they have already coordinated their investigation into the identities of the suspects with their Indonesian and Malaysian counterparts.
Gen. Albayalde said they also see no connection in the meantime between the Jolo bombing and a grenade-throwing incident in a mosque in Zamboanga City last January 30 which killed two preachers and wounded four others.’’While they are still very young. We have to prevent this from happening,” the official said.