Task Group formed to probe 2 blasts PDF Print E-mail
Saturday, 18 August 2012 14:22

Authorities yesterday created a task group to be composed of various units of law enforcement to probe into the twin explosions that hit a provincial bus in Guiwan and an area near a mosque in Suterville Thursday night.

The creation of “Task Group 9224-Suterville” was one of the outputs of the emergency meeting of the City Crisis Management Committee (CMC) that Mayor Celso Lobregat called Friday morning to assess the situation and to look into details of the incidents.

The group, headed by City Police OIC Director PSSupt. James Mejia, will be composed of elements from the City Police, investigation division, Scene of the Crime Operatives (SOCO), Crime laboratory, intelligence unit, Task Force Zamboanga and other concerned units.

Mayor Lobregat, CMC head, said Col. Mejia is set to issue the corresponding letter of instructions to all units concerned to help solve the incident.

Seven persons were wounded—6 of which have been discharged from the hospital the same night when an improvised explosive devise ripped through Rural Transit bus 9224 while unloading passengers near the bus terminal in Guiwan from Pagadian around 9:30pm Thursday. A second explosion rocked Suterville in Campo Islam near a mosque at 10:45pm, barely an hour after. Nobody was hurt in the second incident.

Raynier Palanas, 22, of Martha Drive, Sta. Catalina, who was seated on the next row where the improvised explosive device was planted, obtained multiple puncture wounds in his left buttocks and continues to undergo medical attention. The city government shouldered the medical expenses of the victims in the hospitals where they were rushed after the incident.

Authorities are looking into various angles as motives of the explosions and these include extortion, personal grudge, terrorism and the move to discredit the present administration, according to Mayor Lobregat.

“We have been receiving a lot of information and we do not want to discount any possibility but we also do not want to pinpoint any of the motives unless investigation is over”, he said.

Sr. Supt. Mejia said no group is being pinpointed as perpetrator of the incident until authorities will have concrete evidences.

The Suterville explosion was intended to create panic and sow fear, the authorities said.

Initial investigation showed that Rural Transit bus incident was perpetrated by two passengers who rode along the Culianan highway. The suspects alighted before reaching a mall in Putik where a checkpoint is located, after which the incident happened. The bomb was placed at last row of seats which explains why the bus’ rear is in total wreck.

The authorities also reported similarities in the components of the IED in Guiwan and Suterville. The explosion was triggered by a cell phone and the shrapnel included concrete nails. 

Mayor Lobregat said the CMC has also strongly recommended the need for the management of the Rural Transit Bus and all other provincial bus companies to institute stricter measures to protect their passengers and facilities by reviewing their policy on picking up passengers along the highway as well as the need to deploy security marshalls.

A meeting with the Rural Transit Bus owner and management will be set soon.

The mayor emphasized that the Thursday twin explosion was an unfortunate incident but stressed that the authorities to include the local government unit, the police, Task Force Zamboanga and all other offices and agencies in the government are doing everything possible to make sure that peace and order reigns in Zamboanga City. “We are not resting and we will continue to pursue crime prevention and crime solution”.

When the incident happened Thursday night, Mayor Lobregat, who was in Manila then to officially turn over the city’s financial aid to calamity-stricken LGUs in Luzon, mobilized city government resources to ease the situation. City Administrator Antonio Orendain Jr., who was the City caretaker then, was at the scene immediately closely coordinating with the authorities. City Health Office personnel led by Dr. Carol Carabana were also dispatched to the hospitals to look after the needs of the victims.

The mayor had to cut short his Manila trip and came back first hour of Friday to convene the CMC and to personally look into the situation.

The Thursday twin blast took place almost a year after the explosions at a Guiwan pension house and cockpit in San Roque and in Sangali last October.

Also present during the CMC meeting were House Deputy Speaker and District I Representative Beng Climaco, Councilor Abdurahman Nuño, PSSupt. Ramon Ochotorena, representing Police Regional Director PCSupt. Napoleon Estilles, Task Force Zamboanga Chief Col. Buenaventura Pascual, representatives from the Rural Transit Bus company and other members of the committee. — Sheila Covarrubias