MANILA, Philippines—The bomb scene in Cagayan de Oro City was not prematurely cleaned up contrary to what Interior Secretary Mar Roxas was led to believe.
Philippine National Police Director General Alan Purisima said Tuesday the site of the bomb attack last Friday in an upscale watering hole in the city was cleaned up after Scene of the Crime Operatives (Soco) and other investigators had finished processing the scene by noon the next day.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas had angrily demanded to know who had ordered the cleanup when he arrived in the city at noon on Saturday to find the blast site had been scrubbed.
In a news briefing in Camp Crame on Tuesday, Purisima, who himself was initially angered by the supposed lapse, said: “I think the processing of the crime scene was finished just before lunchtime (Saturday).”
Released by probers
“The area was cleaned after it was released by the investigator on case,” he added.
The PNP chief said he was satisfied that forensics personnel and investigators had thoroughly gone over the bomb site.
“I have seen the pictures, they appear complete. They have gathered all the evidence they would need,” he said.
Purisima said the scene also had to be cleaned up for another reason. “If it was a terrorist attack, we had to remove any satisfaction they [terrorists] would get from seeing the fruit of their work.”
The PNP chief, however, was careful not to prematurely conclude that the blast was a terrorist attack.
“We’re considering everything,” he said.
Purisima said he was satisfied with the investigation being conducted by the Cagayan de Oro police even as he took the local force headed by Senior Supt. Graciano Mijares to task for having been caught off guard.
Eight persons were killed and 46 wounded in the explosion outside Kyla’s Bistro in the popular Rosario Arcade restaurant strip at Limketkai Mall around 11 p.m. Friday.
Among those killed were doctors and medical representatives attending the national convention of the Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP) in a city hotel.
Purisima said the local police apparently failed to obtain information that would have warned them of the attack.
“If this was a terrorist act, our operatives should have been moving in the community. But it seems the information-gathering fell short,” he said.
Purisima said that before the attack “there were rallies because of the closure of some stalls in the area.”
“So they should have been on alert,” he said.
Meanwhile, members of the medical community in the city have banded together to call for justice for those who lost their lives in the bombing.
Call for justice
In a Mass celebrated at the blast site for the victims on Tuesday morning, doctors and medical representatives wore white and put on black armbands as a symbol of mourning and a call for justice.
Dr. Trisha Obrero, president of the College of Physicians for Northern Mindanao, expressed outrage over what happened.
“We are sad, we are angry, we are hurt, we are ashamed that this happened in our city,” she said.
Obrero said the only way the medical community could move on would be to make sure their colleagues did not die in vain.
“We do not only want to know who did it, but we want to know why, so we can prevent it from happening again,” she said between tears.
On Monday, police released a computerized facial composite of the suspect.
Supt. Michael John Deloso, chief of the City Investigative and Detective Management Branch of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office, said the facial composite was based on witness descriptions.—With a report from Cai Panlilio, Inquirer Mindanao