Report, not tinker with suspicious items — Celso Print
Friday, 28 October 2011 14:56

Mayor Celso Lobregat yesterday made an urgent appeal to residents to immediately report to authorities the presence of any suspicious-looking individuals, packages or items in their area and not to tinker with the same to prevent bigger problems.

This, following the explosion incident in an eatery (carinderia) in barangay Sangali Wednesday night that instantly killed one person and wounded six others. The blast happened after 19-year old Lodeto Ybañez, the lone fatality in the incident, tinkered with an unattended package left under one of the tables in the eatery. The authorities have successfully detonated 2 others a few meters apart from the blast site.

At the same time, Mayor Lobregat reiterated his call for the public to remain vigilant and alert as he underscored the need for everybody’s cooperation and assistance to avert lawlessness.

“Please immediately report to authorities any suspicious looking package or item but please don’t overburden our authorities by making prank calls”, the mayor, who is the chair of the City Peace and Order Council (CPOC) said.

To report such cases, people can text to 09063680749 or call 117 or 166. The cellphone number was activated yesterday morning and will be under the care of the operations center of the City Police Office under Col. Edwin de Ocampo.

Mayor Lobregat likewise called on the all out support and cooperation of all force multipliers specifically barangay officials, tanods and intelligence networks (BINs) including the blue guards employed in the different commercial establishments in the city.

“We ask the help of all force multipliers especially barangay officials, tanods and blue guards. Establishment owners should remind the blue guards of the work they were hired for, frisk customers properly and strictly check on baggage deposited at the storage area”, he said.

On the other hand, authorities would not say whether or not the Sangali blast incident has connection to the Tuesday night sea patrol encounter in the waters off Gapu-Talabaan or the Basilan and Sibugay attacks on government troops the previous days. Neither could they say who are responsible for the blast and the planting of the improvised explosive devices in Sangali.

Lobregat said there is no clear evidence of connection of the incidents but stressed that investigation is ongoing in a bid to solve the puzzle. “As of now there is no connection because it is difficult to confirm and if  you ask which group is responsible, we can’t also say unless there is hard evidence pointing to a particular group”.
The mayor proceeded to the blast site immediately after he was informed of the Sangali incident Wednesday night to check on the extent of the damage as well as to look into what assistance can be given to the wounded victims and the next of kin of the lone fatality. Councilor Mike Alavar also went to the area to assist the mayor.

City Police Director Sr. Supt. Edwin de Ocampo and Task Force Zamboanga Chief Col. Buenaventura Pascual are closely coordinating with other law enforcement agencies conducting the investigation on the incident.

Authorities say that the sites where the IEDs were planted were unlikely targets. While the two IEDs were successfully detonated by the police bomb squad, the other IED went off after Ybañez fiddled with it.

Yesterday morning, two other IEDs were successfully detonated by the authorities following intensive scouring operations.

Meanwhile, the Department of Social Welfare and Development Office (DSWD) has extended financial assistance to Ybañez’ next of kin as well as to those wounded now confined at the Zamboanga City Medical Center as well as the outpatient.

City Social Welfare Officer Francisco Barredo said P10,000 was given to the relatives of the lone fatality while similar amount was given each to Maria Karen Medalla and Natividad Tarife who are confined at ward 4 of ZCMC. Outpatients Romeo Ebang, Elbert Manlangit, Rizaldo Rebollos, Jaime Toribio, Rosita Toribio and Dodong Pitik received some P3,333.00 each.

The city government has also extended relief and medical assistance to the victims. Assessment for financial assistance is ongoing. — Sheila Covarrubias