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Teodoro: Strong indication of foreign involvement in MSU bombing

Defense Secretary Gilberto Teodoro Jr. said Sunday that there are strong indications of a certain foreign element that could possibly be connected with the deadly explosion at the Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City this morning.

The defense chief made the remark at a press conference after President Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. released a statement, saying that he condemns the “senseless and most heinous acts perpetrated by foreign terrorists” at MSU and Marawi communities.

“The President has released a statement based on our consultations and there are indicia of foreign element here which we are looking into. This being a crime scene, the physical investigation of the crime scene shall be left to the appropriate agency, the PNP-SOCO (Philippine National Police- Scene of the Crime Office)  of the area,” Teodoro said.

Asked as to the identity of the foreign party that Marcos was referring to, Teodoro said that they are not at liberty to disclose any information.

He also refrained from answering if the MSU bombing was related to the war between Israel and Hamas militants.

“There are strong indications of a foreign element. Let’s leave it at that, so that the investigation both by the PNP and the AFP will not be hampered,” the defense secretary said.

Senator Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, meanwhile, said he is also seeking answers as to whether foreign groups involved in the Israel-Hamas war might be behind the attack at MSU.

“I am begging for answers on the same question that if indeed it was carried out by local terrorists sympathetic to Hamas, why kill fellow Filipinos? These Christian Filipinos are not Jews in the same manner that the Jews are not Christians. Why?”, dela Rosa told reporters.

On the part of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, AFP Chief of Staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. said that they are looking at all possible angles to the Marawi City bombing.

He said the AFP is trying to determine whether the MSU bombing was related to any recent attacks in other areas in Western Mindanao.

“Maaaring retaliatory attack 'yung nangyari kaninang umaga [It’s possible what happened this morning may be a retaliatory attack],” Brawner said.

Despite these developments, Teodoro assured Filipinos they have nothing to be afraid of.

“Hindi po dapat ikabahala ng ating mga kababayan dahil nasa amin ang responsibilidad na pangalagaan ang kanilang kaligtasan sa mga ganitong insidente. At mismo na ang Pangulo ang nanguna na atasan ang mga kinauukulang ahensya upang agresibong maresolba itong insidente na ito at upang hindi na maulit ito,” he said.

(Our countrymen should not worry because we have the responsibility of taking care of their safety in the event of these incidents. The President has also assigned the concerned agencies to aggressively resolve this incident and to prevent it from happening again.)

Amnesty program

Further, Teodoro said that MSU bombing would not affect the amnesty being offered by the Marcos administration to former rebels.

“Sa tingin ko walang epekto ito sa comprehensive amnesty program. Tuloy tuloy ang comprehensive amnesty program at pagka ito ay ni-ratify ng ating Kongreso sa Senado at Lower House, ito ay magiging epeketibo at tuloy tuloy na itong ipapaganap ng ating pamahalaan,” he added.

(I  don't think (the MSU bombing) has any effect on the comprehensive amnesty program. The comprehensive amnesty program will continue and when it is ratified by Congress, both by the Senate and the House, it will be effective and our government will continuously implement it.)

Marcos earlier granted amnesty to rebels including former members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front (CPP-NPA-NDF), Rebolusyonaryong Partido ng Manggagawa ng Pilipinas/Revolutionary Proletarian Army/Alex Boncayao Brigade (RPMP-RPA-ABB), Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). —RF, GMA Integrated News