Two more victims in Friday night’s restaurant bombing in Cagayan de Oro City have died, bringing to eight the number of people killed in the attack, the Philippine National Police chief said on Monday.
Marciano Agustin, a doctor from Cavite province, and Reynaldo Dalupan, an executive at the pharmaceutical company Unilab in Manila, died in a hospital in Cagayan de Oro two days after being seriously injured in the bombing.
Most of the victims were doctors and pharmaceutical representatives who attended a national convention in a hotel in Cagayan de Oro.
They were celebrating in Kyla’s Bistro at the popular Rosario Arcade when the bomb, reportedly placed in a bag that was left on a chair, went off about 11:30 p.m. on Friday.
Six people, including a doctor from Manila, were killed outright and 48 others, including Agustin and Dalupan, were taken to area hospitals badly injured.
PNP Director General Alan Purisima said the remaining 46 injured were still in hospitals Monday.
“We sympathize with the victims and their families. But along with our message of sympathy comes a strong condemnation and concrete action to bring all the perpetrators to justice,” Purisima said at a news conference.
Persons of interest
Purisima authorized the release of computer-generated facial sketches of three men who were seen coming in and out of the bistro moments before the blast.
But investigators have yet to determine whether the three men had a role in the attack, Purisima said.
“Their computerized facial sketches were gathered by our investigators from the information provided by some witnesses,” he said.
According to investigators, the first man was about 26 to 30 years old, at least 1.6 meters tall, fair-skinned, of medium build and was wearing a brown shirt and long pants.
The second man had a roundish face, about 1.6 m tall, probably 40 years old, of medium build and wore a brown shirt and jeans.
The third man wore eyeglasses and a gray bonnet, at least 1.6-m tall and 36 to 40 years old.
Purisima called on the public to help the authorities identify and find the three men who could be behind the bombing.
“I would like to appeal to the people to renew our tried and tested partnership to fight this evil. Community involvement is essential in our fight against crime,” he said.
“[The] information [you will provide] is essential and it matters, no matter how small. It’s the key to our success,” he added.
Investigators are trying to reconstruct the blast site, as the owners of the businesses in the arcade cleaned up the place Saturday morning, removing evidence vital to solving the crime.
Purisima said he had ordered investigators to determine who ordered the blast site cleaned up and warned that those who “tampered” with the crime scene could be held liable for obstruction of justice.
The police team that was first to respond to the attack may also be held responsible for failure to cordon off the crime scene, Purisima said.
“The blast area should not have been touched by anybody to allow our postblast investigators to gather evidence. But the area had already been tampered [with]. It was cleaned up,” he said.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas on Monday clarified reports that he blew his top on Saturday when he learned that the crime scene had been cleaned up.
“I was not really mad. I just asked why the area was cleaned up. It was ‘released’ just 12 hours after the explosion,” Roxas said on Radyo Inquirer.
“The business interest of the restaurant prevailed. There were really lapses, so I told them to stop [cleaning the place] and reconstruct the crime scene,” he said.
The explosive device used in the attack also remains unidentified.
Roxas said on Sunday that doctors recovered no shrapnel or metal parts from the bodies of the victims.
Concussion and debris from the powerful explosion killed or injured the victims, Roxas said.
In Cagayan de Oro City, Supt. Michael John Deloso, chief city police investigator, said investigators were reviewing the video from the security cameras at Kyla’s Bistro for clues to the identities of the attacker.
Investigators are also looking at the cell phones, tablets and cameras of survivors for pictures and clues.
Restaurants and bars near the site of Friday night’s bombing have reported a drop in sales.
Mark Quilinan, who manages a restaurant in Rosario Arcade, where Kyla’s Bistro is located, said sales dropped 60 to 70 percent during the weekend.
A popular fast-food chain with a branch in the arcade reported a 20-percent drop in sales but noted a 40-percent increase in sales at a branch far from the blast site.
“We need tougher security measures,” Quilinan said when asked what he thought was needed to restore consumer confidence.
He suggested that all businesses get security cameras and cover all parts of their stores, an idea shared by Ann Ato, a restaurant owner in downtown Cagayan de Oro.
Security cameras cost from P30,000 to P55,000 and investment depends on the type and number of cameras needed.
“We will have to invest in [security cameras], if only to make us and our patrons feel more secure,” Ato said.
The attack may have hurt the city’s tourism and convention industries as well.
The morning after the attack, delegates to the convention of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians checked out of their hotels and went home.
The regional office of the Department of Tourism (DOT) said there were at least six more conventions scheduled to be held in Cagayan de Oro City from August to December.
But after the blast, the DOT could not say whether the organizers would proceed with the conventions.
In the Senate on Monday, senators ordered the public order committee, headed by Sen. Grace Poe, to investigate the Cagayan de Oro bombing.
Sen. Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, a native of Cagayan de Oro City, had urged the investigation, saying the perpetrators must be identified immediately to prevent a repeat of the attack.
“Hooligans responsible for the crime must not be allowed to get away with the horrible deed they have perpetrated on the innocent victims,” Pimentel said.
“The mastermind must likewise be identified, prosecuted and penalized—not years after the fact but now, immediately, if not sooner,” he added.
Pimentel also asked that the Senate investigation be done to find ways to authorize the police to prevent crimes and solve the crimes that cannot be or have not been prevented.—With reports from Cathy Yamsuan in Manila and JB Deveza, Cai Panlilio and Judy Quiros, Inquirer Mindanao