Twin bombings kill 9, wound dozens in Jolo

A bombing in a town on a restive southern Philippines island killed nine people and wounded dozens on Monday, among them soldiers and civilians, the military said, with Islamist militants suspected of being behind the attack. Two explosions believed to be homemade bombs were triggered within one hour of each other in the main urban center on the island of Sulu, a stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf, a militant group that has pledged allegiance to Islamic State. It was the biggest attack in the town since January 2019, when twin suicide bombings before Sunday service at a Jolo church killed more than 20 people and wounded at least 100. A faction of Abu Sayyaf was blamed for that attack, which Philippine authorities said involved Indonesian bombers. The first blast on Monday happened around noon in front of a food center, outside of which two military trucks were parked, the army said. A second blast followed later, but there were no immediate reports of casualties from that incident. That first bomb killed five soldiers and four civilians and 16 military personnel were among dozens wounded, said Lieutenant General Corleto Vinluan, head of the Western Mindanao command. Lieutenant Colonel Ronaldo Mateo, a military spokesman, said the bomb was attached to a parked motorcycle. There was no immediate claim of responsibility and police said an investigation was underway. Abu Sayyaf was founded in the 1990s with its roots in a separatist cause that it long since abandoned. It is active in the Sulu archipelago of Mindanao, where hundreds of military have been deployed to try to destroy the group, which has been linked to Islamic State and al Qaeda. The group’s various factions have grabbed headlines, most recently for suicide bombings, but also for banditry, piracy and kidnap for ransom, for which it has become notorious for beheading captives, among them westerners. — Reuters

PLDT, Globe vow additional lines at COVID-19 hospital command center

THE COUNTRY’S two biggest telecommunication companies — PLDT, Inc. and Globe Telecom, Inc. — have pledged to provide more lines at the government’s One Hospital Command Center for managing calls relating to treatment of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In a virtual briefing on Monday, Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque said PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan is “committing additional… landlines.” Mr. Pangilinan, also the company’s president and chief executive officer, said in a phone call during the briefing, “We will do that right away.” Globe Telecom Co-Vice Chairman Fernando Zobel de Ayala made the same commitment, saying, “We’ll do, and you know that we’re always assisting, Secretary.” The One Hospital Command Center was launched earlier this month to improve patient access to both private and public hospitals in the capital, where majority of the country’s COVID-19 cases are located. Health Undersecretary Leopoldo J. Vega, in the same briefing, said the center has so far received more than 1,000 calls. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Gillian M. Cortez 

Land reform beneficiaries to get reservation areas in Cotabato

A TOTAL OF 4,463 hectares of reservation areas are set to be distributed to agrarian reform beneficiaries in Cotabato, the Department of Agrarian Reform said. Cotabato Provincial Agrarian Reform Program Officer II Reynaldo G. Anfone said there are more than 3,000 beneficiaries from several barangays in the towns of Arakan and President Roxas. The reservation areas to be distributed are under the University of Southern Mindanao (USM) and Cotabato Foundation College of Science and Technology (CFCST). “The USM and CFCST reservation areas with an approximate of 7,200 hectares were allocated to the educational institutions under Proclamation No. 428 signed by then-President Carlos P. Garcia in 1957,” Mr. Anfone said. The beneficiaries include farmers belonging to Mailuminado Farmers Association, Inc., Arakan Progressive Peasant Organization, Tinanan Kulamanon Lumadnong Panaghiusa (TIKULPA), Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP) and Apo Sandawa Lumadnong Panahiusa sa Cotabato. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave