Opposition Sen. Chiz Escudero yesterday said the latest bombing incidents in Central Mindanao is a glaring indication of government's failed policies in resolving the conflict in Mindanao and curbing terrorism.
"There is apparently no real conviction on the part of government to pursue lasting peace in Mindanao, and because of that innocent people will continue to pay with their lives," he stressed.
"Instead of paying lip service to peace, this administration should act now to resume negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF)," Escudero said.
Talks with the group have been suspended for a year after the MILF alleged the government reneged on a draft agreement on ancestral domain in the southern Philippines.
The Cotabato bombing, which resulted in five fatalities and dozens of bystanders being wounded, came several hours after another explosion in Datu Piang, Maguindanao that wounded three people, and days after bomb-related incidents in Quezon City.
"Government must also exercise extra vigilance in these areas by pouring in more troops to conduct inspections to control the proliferation of firearms and keep a close watch on armed groups that have the capability to carry out such actions," he added.
No group has claimed responsibility for the Cotabato bombing, although both Communist rebels and Muslim militants have been active in southern Mindanao for decades.
Escudero said the Philippine National Police (PNP) should consider including Cotabato in its list of election hotspots to further beef up security in the province.
The current PNP list includes Abra, Basilan, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte, Maguindanao, Masbate, Nueva Ecija, Samar and Sulu.