MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Tuesday, January 1, warned against spreading speculation regarding the New Year’s Eve blast in Cotabato City, amid fears of ISIS-inspired terrorism.
In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said officials are currently investigating the incident and vowed to “get to the bottom of this at the soonest possible time.”
“Authorities are already investigating the incident. In the meantime, we call on everyone not to speculate as this may only sow unnecessary fear and panic among our people,” Panelo said.
At least two people have died while 34 others were injured in a deadly explosion outside South Seas Mall complex in Cotabato City around 1:49 pm on Monday, December 31. A second bomb was defused, the Philippine National Police revealed Tuesday.
The police suspected a local terror group inspired by ISIS was behind the blast.
Chief Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr also called on the public to be more “sober” in dealing with rumors and called the incident an “isolated case.”
“In these trying times when our resolve to pursue just and enduring peace is being tested, I encourage everyone to practice sobriety and not be swayed to spread unfounded speculations relating to the incident,” Galvez said.
“This is an isolated case and our security forces are on top of the situation. Let’s trust that the perpetrators will be brought to justice and that acts like this will be stopped,” he added.
Galvez also called the act an “attack against humanity and the peace-loving people of Cotabato City,” hoping that the perpetrators “find remorse” for their actions as it is against the sacredness of life regardless of religion.
“Let us not allow this incident to discourage us to unite and act as one in our collective aspiration to achieve just and enduring peace not just in Mindanao, but in the whole country,” Galvez said.
Late Monday, the United Kingdom government issued an advisory warning its citizens against travelling to western and central Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago “because of terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.”
It has also warned against all but essential travel to the rest of Mindanao – excluding Camiguin, Dinagat Islands and Siargao Islands – as well as to the south of Cebu, including the towns of Dalaguete and Badian, “due to the threat of terrorism.” – with reports from Michael Bueza/Rappler.com
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