Palawan blasts meant to scare, says DILG chief
MANILA, Philippines—Local conflict was the motive believed to be behind the apparent coordinated blasts that struck two of Palawan’s prime vacation spots on Maundy Thursday, which authorities described as meant more to “alarm than harm.”
Interior Secretary Jesse M. Robredo said the improvised explosives used in the incidents in the capital city of Puerto Princesa and the resort town of El Nido were of a similar nature, bolstering speculation that they were connected.
“I have directed the Philippine National Police chief (Director General Nicanor A. Bartolome) to conduct an investigation and get to the bottom of the case and look at all possible angles,” Robredo said, adding that Puerto Princesa Mayor Edward Hagedorn has already requested his department to start the probe.
Robredo said the Region IV-B police has organized “Task Force Hunter,” an investigation team to be headed by Senior Supt. Abad Osit, Puerto Princesa chief of police, and Senior Supt. Reynaldo Jagmis, Palawan provincial director.
In a report on Saturday, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (NDRRMC) said crime scene investigators and a bomb disposal unit have scoured the blast sites for evidence.
Retrieved in the El Nido resort were the remnants of the explosive, including the metal case of a cellular phone, the positive and negative terminal and metal case of a nine-volt battery, a leg wire and pink and yellow plastic bags that were used as containers.
At least 3 wounded
The NDRRMC said it was coordinating with the Armed Forces of the Philippines Western Command for “possible tactical reinforcement.”
At least three people were reported wounded in the blasts, none of them in critical danger.
The police said the first explosion occurred at 5:20 p.m. on Thursday, in front of Entaula Beach Resort, Zone 3, Barangay Masagana in El Nido.
Minutes later, another explosion struck the North Highway in Puerto Royal Express Bus Station behind the Petron Gas Station, Barangay San Jose, Puerto Princesa City.
The injured in the first blast was identified as Aiza Gay Martinez Mallari, 23, a cook who was throwing garbage outside the resort when the explosion happened.
Wounded in the second blast were Marivic Aria, 28, who suffered minor injuries on her left ankle, and Cenon Magdayo, 75, who incurred minor bruises on his forehead and ankle.
The blasts occurred during the busiest season for two of Palawan’s most popular tourist destinations.
Robredo said police, firefighters and town officials would be on guard in other crowded vacation spots.
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