Five people died while 35 others were wounded in a morning bomb blast in Cotabato City. Cotabato Archbishop Orlando Quevedo was about to read his homily when the bomb exploded. The explosive device was placed in an eatery near the Cotabato Immaculate Concepcion church.
The Southern Command was quick to blame the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), saying that a special operations groups were the ones responsible for the blast. Malacanang also was quick to draw the gun, blaming "destabilizers" for the blast. However, the MILF denied any involvement in the blast, saying that the act was "un-Islamic" and contrary to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad. The MILF called for an independent probe into the incident.
Pope Benedict the 16th and the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) were one in condemning the explosion. The Pope said this is not the way to resolve conflicts, while the CBCP hinted that this could be part of an on-going effort to destabilize the country. Remember that a few days ago, a bomb exploded before the Office of the Ombusman while bombs were allegedly found at the Department of Agriculture and a condominium in Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.
The explosion came shortly after an announcement was made that the government and the MILF peace panels are expected to go back to the negotiating table this month. Was this part of a plan to derail peace efforts in Mindanao?
Some people however surmise that this could be part of the so-called Oplan August Moon, a secret campaign to create justifying circumstances for the declaration of martial rule. Prior to this, a bomb exploded at the Office of the Ombusman in Quezon City, while bombs were found at the Department of Agriculture and a condominium along Katipunan Avenue, Quezon City.
Oplan August Moon is supposed to lay down the groundwork for more oppressive state actions against the government's detractors, particularly those who oppose the plan of Mrs. Arroyo's allies to convene Congress into a Constituent Assembly. Others, however, said that the Oplan actually targets AFP Chief of Staff General Victor Ibrado. It is no secret that Ibrado's class (PMA Class 1976) is now engaged in a power struggle with Mrs. Arroyo's favorite class (PMA Class 1978). Though Defense secretary Gilbert Teodoro was quick to squelch this, news of inter-class squabblings are getting louder. A source within the AFP says that classmates of Ibrado and PMA Class 1978 member Army Chief Lt. Gen. Delfin Bangit were the ones jockeying for power inside the AFP. The power struggle is reportedly unknown to both officers.
Historically, blasts and bomb threats always precede destab efforts before. With a few weeks left before the SONA, many people fear that more such incidents will happen to create a chilling effect on those who oppose charter change. Yesterday, the military announced that it is preparing for possible unrests and destab threats as the SONA nears. The possibility is high since last June, Executive secretary Eduardo Ermita warned cha-cha protesters that Mrs. Arroyo will not hesitate to use her "emergency powers" in case violence breaks out when Congress convenes itself into a Constituent Assembly after July 27.