Press Release
August 25, 2020

Privilege Speech of Senator Ronald Bato Dela Rosa
on the recent Jolo bombings

Mr. President, dear colleagues, good afternoon.

I rise before you today not only as a member of this August Chamber, but as a former soldier and a former police officer who has, in my lifetime, seen and experienced the abysmal horrors of war and terrorism.

The grim scenario of massive destruction and desolation, bloodied and mangled bodies of innocent civilians and military or police personnel splattered everywhere, just keeps entering my mind whenever I hear news of terror attacks in any part of our country, especially in my beloved Mindanao.

Yesterday, this scenario became so real again, as two explosions wreaked havoc in Jolo, Province of Sulu.

According to initial reports, the first explosion happened near Paradise Food Plaza along Serantes Street, Barangay Walled City in downtown Jolo. An improvised explosive device (IED) went off, and killed six soldiers.

The second explosion took place an hour after, in front of a branch of the Development Bank of the Philippines, in the same barangay. This time, the blast killed one more soldier, and wounded at least three soldiers and six policemen.

News reports say that the second explosion was allegedly caused by a female suicide bomber with alleged suspected links to Abu Sayyaf bomber Mundi Sawadjaan, nephew of Abu Sayyaf sub-leader and Islamic State (ISIS) head in the country, Hajan Sawadjaan.

Reports of death toll has risen to 14, with 7 soldiers, 6 civilians, and one policeman killed in the two blasts. At least 75 people were wounded - 48 civilians, 21 soldiers, 3 local policemen and 3 PNP Special Action Force personnel.

A while ago, I just talked to Gen. Gilbert Gapay, Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, and he declared that based on Army survivors' accounts, the first explosion did not come from the parked motorcycle at the side of the M35 truck as earlier reported but in between the parked M35 truck and KM450 truck. Their intelligence, both signal intel and human intel, claimed that the two explosions were each perpetrated by a female suicide bomber.

Hindi malayo, Mr. President, na itong posibleng grim scenario na itong mga suicide bombers ay pwedeng makakarating dito sa Metro Manila dahil sa ngayon we have an intelligence indicating that yung mga anak ng mga namamatay na mga Abu Sayyaf members ay kinukupkop ng Abu Sayyaf at nira-radicalize para magiging suicide bomber. So we expect Mr. President, sana hindi sila dadami.

In relation to this, Mr. President, your Senate Committee on Public Order and Dangerous Drugs chaired by this representation conducted a hearing on the Jolo incident that happened last June 29, 2020 that resulted to the killing of 4 Army intelligence operatives by the members of Jolo Municipal Police and PDEU operatives of Sulu Provincial Police. During that hearing, it was revealed by the AFP that the military intelligence were then conducting monitoring and surveillance based on their gathered intelligence on the presence of alleged two female suicide bombers in Jolo, Sulu. Ito na po yun Mr. President ang kanilang hinahanap at kung hindi sana napatay sila Major Indammog and company baka ang suicide bombings na ito ay napigilan, Mr. President.

Nakalulungkot isipin na sa kabila ng paghihirap at pasakit na nararanasan ng ating bansa at mamamayan dulot ng Covid19 pandemic, nakuha pang isagawa ang karumaldumal na krimen na ito sa Jolo na nagdulot ng karagdagang hinagpis sa ating bansa, lalo na sa mga pamilya ng mga nasawi at nasaktan.

Tunay nga na ang mga terorista ay hindi pipili ng panahon at lugar kung saan maghasik ng lagim. Ito na po yung kasagutan sa mga bumabatikos sa timing ng pagsabatas ng Anti-Terrorism Law.

Republic Act 11479, or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, has just been enacted last month. This is the piece of legislation that seeks to prevent, prohibit and penalize terrorism in the country. Despite its noble intention, many individuals and groups have raised their frantic concerns on their conceived and imagined abuses that may possibly be committed by the Government in implementing this measure.

But to the critics, I dare ask this question: with the recent Jolo bombing, have you not realized that terrorism is indeed in our midst, with its clear, imminent and present danger, ready to devour anyone in its path? Ano ba talaga ang mas matimbang sa inyo, yung inyong imagined threat na pwedeng gagawin ng gobyerno laban sa mga kritiko, or itong real, clear and present danger na makikita natin na nagkalasog-lasog na katawan ng ating mga sundalo, policemen at mga sibilyan. Have you not outgrown your pre-conceived and imagined threats contained in RA 11479?

This is also a challenge to all human rights advocates to condemn this terroristic attack, and focus, not just on the ill actions done by a few members of the military and the police, but also the sufferings and sacrifices of the majority of these men for their countrymen. The members of the military and the police force are also victims of human rights abuses in the face of terrorism. They too deserve your attention and assistance. To the Commission on Human Rights, we have had enough of your excuses that your mandate is focused more on the human rights of the non-state actors such as the terrorist Abu Sayyaf and CPP-NPA and not the state actors - AFP and PNP. How about the human rights of their grieving families? They are non-state actors, I suppose, Mr. President.

No amount of bravery and gallantry will ease the excruciating pain of the grieving families of these officers who sacrificed their lives to protect the communities and people that they have served.

Bilang dating sundalo at pulis, batid ko po ang hinagpis ng bawat pamilya ng sundalo o pulis na pumanaw dahil sa karahasan ng digmaan o kaguluhan. Kahit kailan, hindi matutumbasan ng medalya o pera ang sakit ng mawalan ng kaanak na nagbuwis ng buhay para sa bayan.

The lesson of the recent Jolo bombing rings loud and clear: terrorism is real and it is in our midst. Let us all join forces in fighting this evil with strong determination and courage to curb its roots and throw it into the dungeons of hell.

I offer my deepest sympathies to the grieving families of the members of the military and the police, and the civilians who have died. The sacrifices of their loved ones will never be forgotten. To them we offer our firm

commitment to fight terrorism 'til the end, in order to give justice and meaning to their death.

We also offer our sincere help and prayers for the recovery of those who were injured physically, emotionally and psychologically with this Jolo bombing.

May the God of Peace and Healing be with us in these trying times, as we join our hands in restoring peace and order in the country and people.

Maraming Salamat po.

News Latest News Feed