This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.
GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – Bomb experts detonated at least three crude bombs near a bus terminal in Cotabato City ahead of the start of the Palarong Bangsamoro Region in Muslim Mindanao Athletic Association’s (BARMMAA) fourth regional competitions in the city on Thursday, May 25.
Officials said authorities had sealed off a portion of the highway near the Husky Bus garage at the highway in Malagapas following the discovery of three improvised explosive devices in the vicinity at around early dawn.
The section of the highway was reopened hours after the bombs were detonated, said Cotabato City police chief Colonel Querubin Manalang.
Manalang said investigators theorized that the crude bombs had been left in the area to merely scare people ahead of the five-day regional games.
But authorities were also looking into the possibility that the incident was the handiwork of a group that has been engaged in extortion activities.
Husky Bus is the same company that saw one of its buses bombed in Isulan, Sultan Kudarat in April, injuring several passengers, including children.
The military had attributed the April 17 Sultan Kudarat bombing to the radical group Dawlah Islamiyah, a terrorist organization that was subsequently accused of turning into an extortion syndicate, targeting bus companies, apparently to fund its extremist causes.
Crime scene investigators said pieces of evidence, including an unexploded second bomb, found in the bombed bus in Sultan Kudarat were consistent with the explosives used by the Dawlah Islamiyah in previous bomb attacks.
Manalang downplayed public fears, saying there was no need to panic because authorities intercepted and disposed of the bombs in Cotabato City on time.
“The mild blast that was heard was due to a ‘counter check,’ a procedure to see if there was a triggering device that needed to be disrupted to disable a bomb,” he said.
Manalang said police officers and soldiers were constantly patrolling around the city to thwart attempts to disturb Cotabato’s peace and order situation during the 4th BARMMAA Meet.
Cotabato City Mayor Mohammad “Bruce” Matabalao said security forces have been on their toes since Monday to ensure that no untoward incident will happen during the BARMMAA events, and to ensure the safety of athletic delegations housed in at least 16 schools that were turned into temporary billeting facilities.
Cotabato City schools division superintendent Concepcion Balawag said the competing delegations come from Maguindanao del Norte, Maguindanao del Sur, two divisions from Lanao del Sur, one each from Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Lamitan City, Isabela City, Marawi City, the BARMM’s special geographic area in Cotabato province, and host Cotabato City, the regional center.
With several schools being used to house the athletes, authorities saw the need to suspend face-to-face classes during the duration of the regional event. Online classes will proceed, though, so as not to hamper the studies of students, Balawag said.
She said the BARMMAA Meet will begin on Thursday afternoon with a colorful parade around Cotabato City up to the campus of the Cotabato State University (CSU), where most of the sports events will be held.
Balawag said other games will be held at the new sports hub near the People’s Palace and several private schools like Notre Dame University (NDU).
The Cotabato City Council passed a resolution on Tuesday, May 23, asking business establishments and transport operators to give discounts to BARMMAA athletes and their coaches as a gesture of hospitality.
Cotabato Councilor Henjie Ali said it will be up to the business owners and transport operators how much discount to give the BARMMAA athletes.
He said the week-long games will be a good opportunity for the local business community to promote the city’s tourism and business potential. – Rappler.com