Saudi Arabia, OIC condemn bomb attack on church in S. Philippines

Aftermath of the twim explosions at a Roman Catholic cathedral in Jolo. (Philippine military handout via AFP)
Updated 28 January 2019

Saudi Arabia, OIC condemn bomb attack on church in S. Philippines

  • At least 20 people were killed and more than 80 injured in the twin bombings on Jolo island
  • The attack came days after the ratification of a law expanding self-rule in Muslim-majority areas in the south

MANILA/JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia and the head of the world’s largest body of Muslim-majority countries has strongly condemned the bombing of a Roman Catholic church in the Philippines that killed 20 people and wounded nearly a dozen.
A source from the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs expressed outrage at the attack, reasserting the Kingdom’s position of rejecting all forms of violence, terrorism and extremism. He extended condolences to the families of the victims and to the people of the Philippines, adding that Saudi Arabia wished a speedy recovery to all those injured in the blasts. 
In a separate statement, Yousef Al-Othaimeen the general secretary of the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), also expressed his “deep indignation” at Sunday’s terrorist attack.
Al-Othaimeen said the OIC firmly rejects all forms of violence, extremism and terrorism, whatever their sources or motives.
In addition to the 20 fatalities, up to 81 mostly civilian churchgoers were injured in the twin bombings on the southern island of Jolo.
The first device, placed inside the Cathedral of Our Lady of Carmel, detonated during Sunday mass. The second, placed at the entrance to the cathedral compound, went off as soldiers and emergency services responded to the first explosion.

Though no one has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, Jolo has long been plagued by the insurgent group Abu Sayyaf, considered by both the Philippine and US governments as a terrorist organization, that has carried out multiple bombings, kidnappings and beheadings in the past.

The incident comes days after the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL), which is envisioned to be a major step toward achieving lasting peace in Mindanao. 

President Duterte’s national security adviser, Hermogenes Esperon Jr., said the authorities have yet to establish if the incident is related to the Bangsamoro Organic Law.

“We have yet to establish if the two explosions are related to the all-important BOL. The BOL ends the secessionist narrative. The BOL signifies the end of war for secession. It stands for peace in Mindanao,” Esperon said.

“The perpetrators are mass murderers. They are extremist criminals. We will not allow them to spoil the preference of the people for peace,” he added while giving assurance that security forces are working to secure Sulu and the rest of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region.

“Peace must prevail over war,” he stressed.

Following the incident, the Coast Guard has directed its district stations particularly in BOL-covered areas to enhance security measures of their facilities and ports and terminals to prevent a similar attack.

On Jan. 24, government forces seized a jungle camp of Daesh-inspired extremists in Lanao Del Sur after 10 hours of heavy fighting with remnants of the Maute Group believed to be led by Owaidah Marohombsar, alias “Abu Dar.” Three members of Marohombsar’s group were killed and three soldiers were wounded.

 

Expanded Muslim autonomy

In its statement, the OIC welcomed the ratification of the BOL, which provides expanded autonomy for the region’s minority Muslims in hopes of ending nearly five decades of a separatist rebellion that has left 150,000 people dead.

“Yes” votes won by landslide in most parts of the present Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, particularly Maguindanao, Lanao Del Sur, and Tawi-Tawi.

Sulu province, of which Jolo island is located, however, rejected the BOL. Reports indicate a low turnout of voters, particularly in Jolo, during the plebiscite amid fears that violence could erupt.

(With AP)


Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

Updated 21 min 11 sec ago

Global organizations commend Saudi Arabia’s role in e-learning

JEDDAH: Six international organizations have completed two studies on e-learning in the Kingdom and praised its efforts in providing a rapid response, multiple options and continuous improvement during the coronavirus pandemic.
The studies involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.
The center said that the global organizations completed two comprehensive studies on the experience of public and higher education in Saudi Arabia during the pandemic, with the aim of documenting and studying the reality of the experience and coming up with initiatives to develop e-learning practices in accordance with current global practices and standards.
The studies were conducted with the participation of students, faculty members, teachers, parents and school leaders.
The number of participants in the public education study reached 318,000, while the number of participants in the higher education study reached 24,000.
The first study was prepared by the Online Learning Consortium (OLC), with the participation of the International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Quality Matters (QM), the UNESCO Institute of Information Technologies in Education (IITE), the National Research Center for Distance Education and Technological Advancements (DETA) in the US.
The second study was prepared by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) with the cooperation of the Harvard Graduate School
of Education.
In the studies, reference comparisons were made with more than 193 countries. The two studies showed the Kingdom’s distinction in the diversity of options, including, for example, electronic content and satellite channels available for e-learning in public education.

NUMBER

342k

The studies on e-learning involved the participation of 342,000 respondents and were conducted under the supervision of the Kingdom’s National Center for e-Learning.

The percentage of countries that succeeded in providing these at the national level was only 38 percent.
The study conducted by the OECD and the Harvard Graduate School of Education included a comparison of the Kingdom’s response to education during the COVID-19 pandemic with 37 member states.
The results showed the Kingdom’s progress in 13 out of 16 indicators on the average of
these countries.
The study also revealed that teachers received significant support to overcome obstacles to e-learning.
The study of public education indicated that there was a clear strategy for the Ministry of Education to reopen schools in the Kingdom and address any issues.
OLC hailed the efforts of the Saudi Ministry of Education in dealing with the crisis by providing a variety of options for e-learning, and the quick response to the pandemic and immediate shift to remote instruction.
The two studies recommended 71 proposed development initiatives for public education and 78 proposed development initiatives for higher education.
The National Center for e-Learning is working in coordination with the Ministry of Education to present the initiatives and begin their implementation.
The center announced that the organizations that conducted the studies would publish their results and complete the second phase at the end of the current semester.

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