Regional Gov. Mujiv Hataman of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) Monday said he believed the roadside bomb that went off in Basilan and killed a soldier was meant for regional and local officials trying to reconcile Yakan warring families.
"I believed anyone could be a victim," Hataman said of the blast in Tipo-Tipo town in Basilan Sunday. "That could be for anybody, not only me."
The blast occurred hours before a convoy of vehicles carrying public officials was to pass heading toward Sumisip town.
"Whoever was the target, the perpetrator should be stopped in this senseless activities," Hataman said of the bombing which the military and police authorities blamed on the extremist Abu Sayaff Group.
Gov. Hataman was with his older brother, Basilan Rep. Jim Hataman, Army brigade commander Colonel Rolando Bautista and other local and military officials.
A soldier was checking on an improvised bomb fashioned from 81 mm mortar planted under a tree in portions of the Lagayas-Cabangalan section of the Basilan circumferential road in Tipo-Tipo town.
Bautista identified the slain soldier as Army Corporal Hadjulla Manda who was part of the road security deployed by the military along Basilan's circumferential road.
Last month, a similar IED also went off along the stretch of the island's circumferential road as Hataman's convoy passed by minutes earlier. Hataman and ARMM officials were to inspect government projects in the area.
Despite the incident, Hataman insisted on proceeding to Sumisip where a peace agreement signing involving Yakan warring families was held.
Hataman and military officials witnessed the peace covenant signing of families locked in armed conflict for decades.
He identified the Yakan families who agreed to a peaceful settlement as Palinta and Tukul families, the Abdulmuin and Aspali families, and the Sapaat and Aliman families in Barangays Guiong, Manaul and Kabengbeng in Sumisip town.
Hataman personally knew the warring families and he was glad he and his brother, along with the military, succeeded in bring the warring families to the negotiating table.
Hataman also lauded the role of ARMM’s Regional Reconciliation and Unification Commission and the Muslim Religious Leaders.