This is why we have the Anti-Terrorism Act

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    ‘Denunciations and rage against the perpetrators who can be so insensitive to basic human values can lead to nothing if the government just takes any hit that comes its way.’

    PHOTOS documenting the twin bomb attacks in Jolo, Sulu on Monday, targeting soldiers and policemen but done without regard for civilian lives, are evidence that evoke shock and horror initially, then provoke anger and just rage. They showed mangled bodies, spilled blood against concrete, burnt shoes, clothes and sandals, and metal vehicle parts covered by muddy street debris.

    Police and military reports said the first bomb was detonated inside a motorcycle parked in front of a grocery store in Barangay Walled City, a business district in Jolo. The soldiers were clearly the target, since the bomb-packed motorcycle was parked near a military truck where the Army troopers from the 21st Infantry Battalion were deployed as part of their job in assisting local officials enforced quarantine measures. Four soldiers died on the spot and 17 civilians were injured in this first bomb attack.

    The second explosion happened a few minutes after in another street some 100 meters from the first. This time, another soldier was trying to accost a foreign-looking woman whom he did not know was a suicide bomber. She detonated another improvised explosive device which she carried in her body, killing herself, the soldier, and injuring some more bystanders.

    These mayhem and chaos in Jolo’s public plaza and business district happened in broad daylight, while security forces and local authorities were conducting COVID-19 response operations. The death toll was 15, as of the latest count.

    Sonny Abing III, information officer of the Sulu provincial government, said among the fatalities were seven troopers of the Philippine Army, six civilians, and a member of the police’s elite Special Action Force (SAF). He said a total of 21 Army troopers, three SAF commandos, and three cops from the Sulu Provincial Police Office were injured along with 48 civilians.

    The sites of the explosions were near the Mt. Carmel Cathedral in Jolo which was also attacked by twin bomb blasts on Jan. 27, 2019, killing 23 people and injuring over 100 others, many of them parishioners attending masses then. This was the attack that prompted Malacañang to insist on passing an entirely new Anti-Terrorism Act, not just amendments to the previous law against terrorists, which imposes restrictions on law enforcers in fighting the real state enemies that sow terror among the masses.

    We have heard the condemnations from senators, from Malacañang officials, from members of the House of Representatives, along with Muslim leaders in Congress, and even ordinary people who are disgusted and fed up with religion-based violence in the Southern Philippines.

    Those who fight the Anti-Terrorism Act and even brought their opposition to the Supreme Court should be jolted by these continuing attacks by the real terrorists in Mindanao, and appalled by the senseless loss of Filipino lives.

    Denunciations and rage against the perpetrators who can be so insensitive to basic human values can lead to nothing if the government just takes any hit that comes its way.