2 suspects arrested in Sultan Kudarat’s bombing attempt
ISULAN, Sultan Kudarat – Police authorities announced on Tuesday, the arrest of two men, suspected of planting the powerful improvised device that was later defused here.
Supt. Joefel Siason, Isulan town police chief, said the two arrested suspects were said to be the same men who were riding tandem on a motorcycle and who left a trolley bag at a roadside near the rotunda here past 6 a.m. Tuesday.
The bomb, made of 105-millimeter howitzer shells fitted with mobile phones as remote detonating devices, was recovered shortly before a parade signaling the start of the fire prevention month here was to pass by the rotunda, Siason said.
“The IED was left about 15 meters away from the parade lead team,” Siason said, adding that the bomb was rigged with about four kilos of cut nails and metal sheets.
“It was a very powerful bomb that could kill or maim more than 30 persons within a 15-meter radius,” Mayor Diosdado Pallasigue, who joined the parade, said.
Siason said as the parade unfolded near the welcome rotunda, Pallasigue and other participants noticed two men speeding away but suddenly stopped along the national highway.
“They left a black trolley bag and sped away. But the bag tilted on its side and fell so one of the two went back to return the bag to its standing position then quickly left,” Siason said in Filipino. “It was then that we became suspicious it could be a bomb,” he added.
He said the two men from Maguindanao, whom he did not identify, were later arrested.
Police and Army bomb experts, using bomb sniffing dogs, checked on the baggage and confirmed it was a bomb. It was later defused.
“It was meant for me and other local officials. Who else are the targets but the parade participants with the bomb left as we are about to pass,” Pallasigue said, adding that the discovery of the bomb interrupted the parade.
Pallasigue is running for governor of Sultan Kudarat.
“Since I filed my candidacy, I have been receiving threats, I was informed that my enemies will finish me off before the May 9 elections,” Pallasigue, a three-termer town mayor. “The threat is now real,” he added.
Following the incident, Siason said the police had put up additional checkpoints and inspected public transport coming in and out of the integrated bus terminal.
Meanwhile, two students the police had arrested as suspects in the bombing at a carnival in Esperanza, Sultan Kudarat on February 21 were fall guys, residents said.
The Esperanza police had arrested students John Rell Kanakan, Grade 10, and Lowie Bakat, Grade 9, both 19 years old — who were also wounded in the carnival explosion that killed a boy and wounded dozens of others.
Karen Tupas Eterno, one of the teachers at the Datu Abdullah Camino National High School – where the two are currently enrolled – said Kanakan’s parents told her authorities took the students to the provincial jail from the Sultan Kudarat Provincial Hospital where they were undergoing sensitive medical treatment for injuries caused by the bombing.
One attending physician told Kanakan’s parents that he could lose his left eyesight to infection, while exposed to possible contamination in jail, if his eye injury was left unattended.
Datu Abdullah Sangki Municipal Councilors Anwar Emblawa and Anatoli Ian Eterno beseeched government to provide legal assistance to the arrested students, who are have been locked up in jail.
Sammy Maulana, secretary-general of the Consortium of Bangsamoro Civil Society, said he sympathized with the victims, and had asked the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) to send a fact-finding mission and human rights lawyers to represent in court the rights of the accused.
Emblawa said during their interrogation, the suspects’ defense that they were students was ruled out, “because their bodies are too big to be in grade 9 or 10 school levels.” SFM
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