Grenade blast hurts 3 at Panagbenga

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Singer-performer Gary Valenciano waves to the crowd at the Baguio Athletic Bowl Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, as the flower float carrying him passes by the stage. The culmination of the monthlong Panagbenga Festival literally started with a bang on Sunday after a hand grenade exploded outside the Baguio City Volunteers Against Crime office located near the grandstand at Burnham Park. ABE CEROJANO/ INQUIRER.net

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines—The culmination of the monthlong Panagbenga (Flower) Festival literally started with a bang on Sunday after a hand grenade exploded outside the Baguio City Volunteers Against Crime (BCVAC) office located near the grandstand at Burnham Park, police said.

Only a few spectators were aware of the explosion, however, by the Melvin Jones Grandstand that wounded three people at 6:50 a.m., an hour before the floral parade was to roll through downtown Baguio.

Office workers Gilbert Salvador, 29, and Genard Palomique, 33, who were preparing to serve as security volunteers for the parade, and security guard Joseph Espada, 49, were wounded in the explosion. They were treated for minor burns at Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center.

Police said initial investigation did not indicate a terrorist attack.

The presence of a police support outpost at the grandstand did not stop the perpetrators.

Police said the blast did not cause panic and the explosion was confined to the BCVAC office.

Because this was the parade weekend, people were lined up along Session Road and Harrison Road near Burnham Park as early as 4 a.m.

The summer capital has been mounting the Baguio Flower Festival for 18 years.

This year’s parade still managed to draw busloads of first-time visitors who gaped at the vista of 17 colorful floats bedecked in fresh flowers carrying television and movie stars of the two major television networks, including 2012 Miss Universe third runner-up Shamcey Supsup.

Her float was decorated with chrysanthemums, orchids, anthuriums, everlasting and Malaysian mums, which brought out the dominant blue, white and orange hues of the vehicle.

Some Metro Manila residents who traveled to Baguio to watch the parade for the first time climbed trees for a good view of Harrison Road.

On Sunday morning, a bus from Nueva Ecija hit a sidewalk railing on General Luna Road. No one was hurt and the passengers continued to watch the parade.

On Thursday night, a bus crash killed seven people, among them two students and two teachers of the Marinduque State College, who had come from Baguio on an educational tour. The group was on its way to Manila when their bus hit a truck on Marcos Highway in Tuba, Benguet.

Chief Supt. Banjamin Magalong, Cordillera police director, said many of the students who survived the crash had returned to Marinduque on ambulances and trucks from the Philippine Military Academy.—With reports from Vincent Cabreza, Desiree Caluza, Frank Cimatu and Jhoanna Marie Buenaobra, Inquirer Northern Luzon

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