CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Oscar Moreno has called on the public to refrain from speculating about Friday’s bombing inside a busy restaurant here, as police race to find more clues on who could be behind it.
Six people were killed while 48 others were wounded when a bomb exploded outside the Kyla Resto, which was filled with doctors and medical representatives who had attended a national medical convention on Friday night.
Moreno said a task force composed of the city and regional offices of the police, the National Bureau of Investigation and the Philippine Army has been examining all pieces of evidence gathered in the investigation, including recovered fragments of the improvised explosive device and its supposed triggering device.
Senior Superintendent Graciano Mijares, the city police chief, said investigators have retrieved metal fragments, a circuit board from a mobile phone and a piece of a 9-volt battery.
“Our objective is clear– identify the perpetrators, establish the motive, and apprehend the suspects so they can be brought to the bars of justice,” Moreno said.
Moreno also said that the city would begin reviewing the compliance of business establishments of a city ordinance mandating the putting up of surveillance cameras in all business establishments.
Police investigators still have not retrieved a video footage showing the perpetrators but have instead relied on witnesses’ testimonies to pinpoint the bombers.
The CCTV cameras of the restaurant where the bomb went off were reportedly positioned inside the establishment while the blast happened outside.
Moreno also urged the public to remain calm and said police authorities continue to be on a red alert status two days after the blast.
In Zamboanga City, Lt. Gen. Rey Ardo, chief of the military’s Western Mindanao Command, described as “far-fetched” reports linking the Cagayan de Oro bombing to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF).
“Ang layo naman nyon (That’s far-fetched),” Ardo told the Philippine Daily Inquirer by phone.
Some 100 MNLF members gathered in the house of their leader, Nur Misuari, on Thursday amid reports that the group was to declare “independence.” No declaration happened on that day which, Misuari said was just a gathering of his followers.
The MNLF, which signed a final peace agreement with the government in 1996, has complained of being left out in the peace negotiations with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF).
The MILF is a breakaway of the MNLF.
“Huwag muna nating pangunahan ang pulis sa kanilang investigation (Let’s not preempt the police investigation). They have not yet established the motive and it’s very far-fetched as of this time,” Ardo said.
Earlier, General Ricardo Visaya, commander of the 4th Infantry Division, informed the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the military was “still clueless” as to motive of the attack.
“Wala pang nakikitang malinaw na motibo dito,” Visaya said.
But Visaya said initial investigation revealed that a mortar was used in making the bomb.
“It is made of mortar but we cannot say what type of mortar, and the investigators are trying to determine if it’s a 60mm or an 80mm type of mortar and they are evaluating the fragments recovered,” Visaya said.
“Ganito yung estilo na usually nakukuha natin sa mga armed Moro rebels in the past, but it’s not fair to attribute this to any rebel group,” Visaya said.
Meanwhile, city officials have assured families of those injured in Friday evening’s blast that the government will pay for all hospitalization bills.
“It is the least that we can do,” said First District Rep. Rufus Rodriguez.
Rodriguez said his office, together with Abamin Partylist Rep. Maxie Rodriguez and Cagayan de Oro City 2nd District Rep. Rolando Uy, have committed to shoulder half of all hospitalization bills, after PhilHealth and medical insurance deductions. The other half will be shouldered by the city government.
Sixteen of the 44 injured victims were still confined in three hospitals here as of Sunday morning.
Two physicians, identified as Marciano Agustin III and Reynaldo Dalupan, were manning the intensive care unit, as of Sunday.
In Cotabato City, the National Ulama Council of the Philippines (NUCP) condemned the bombing Cagayan de Oro City.
“As we all pray for peace to reign over us, we sympathize with the bereaved families of those who died in the bomb attack, and join everyone’s wish for fast recovery of the wounded and the community it has torn,” an NUCP statement said.
“We also join mounting calls on the authorities and witnesses, if any, to help gain speedy dispensation of justice that is based on truth and facts, and not on speculative persuasions that might yet implicate or adversely affect more number of innocent persons and families,” the NUCP added.
(JB Deveza, Bobby Lagsa, Julie S. Alipala, Nash B. Maulana, Inquirer Mindanao)