Police worked overnight to look for more bombs following twin explosions that killed two and placed the lives of top police officials and media men in danger Saturday night in Quiapo, Manila.
Using a remote-controlled robot, police finally completed a sweep of the blast site at noon yesterday. That was the only time when two bodies were retrieved from the blast site.
One of the dead has been identified as certain Mohammad Bainga. He was reportedly the one who received the package containing the bomb.
The motorcycle-riding delivery man who also died from the blast remained unidentified, although Grab Philippines confirmed him as a “GrabExpress partner.”
Four persons near the bomb were injured and identified as Jaber Gulam of Lanao del Sur, Datu Sohair Adapun of Marawi City, and Hajhi Ali of Gunao, Quiapo. The fourth victim who sustained minor injuries was not identified.
The first bomb went off at 5:55 p.m. and police immediately cordoned off the area.
Less than two hours later, National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde and Manila Police District (MPD) director Chief Supt. Joel Napoleon Coronel arrived and gave a handful of media men a briefing.
Just when media men were about to wrap up the interview at 8:32 p.m., a second bomb went off.
It was deafening and so near – roughly about 20 meters – that the ground shook.
Both police officials appeared to have lost their balance as media men scampered to safety while policemen shouted to everyone to clear the area.
A man in black inside a police mobile, his voice cracking, said: “May isang kasamahan namin tinamaan.”
Two policemen, identified as Chief Insp. Elisa Arturo of the MPD Crime Laboratory, and PO2 Aldrin Resos, of the MPD Explosive and Ordnance Division, were hurt and rushed to the hospital.
Before the second blast, Albayalde faced the media and ruled out terrorism, saying the bomb was intended for a Muslim leader who was holding an office nearby.
Albayalde said the blast was not related to the April 28 bombing. “Wala. Most probably of all indications wala ito.
Well kasi unang-una it’s a package, unang una may intended for a certain person,” said Albayalde, referring to lawyer Naser Abinal, president of Imamate Islamic Center.
The police did not say why Abinal was targeted.
Police are still determining the kind of explosives used.
“Hindi pa natin masabi dahil on-going pa ang investigation ng ating EOD. After siguro makakuha sila ng mga debris or components masasabi na nila kung anong klaseng powder or explosives,” said Albayalde.
Meanwhile, an unattended paper bag found in Quezon Bridge caused panic yesterday morning. It later turned out to contain some cartons.
Coronel, who returned after the second blast, said the MPD remains on full alert status.
“So far, as the NCRPO is concerned, particularly the MPD, we’re still on full alert even after the ASEAN Summit considering that our alert status is not lifted or downgraded,” said Coronel.
Coronel, however, allayed fears of possible terrorism.
“This is not in any manner would be considered an act of terror, targeting the population or crowded areas. So far, as far as the Manila Police District is concerned, we are on full alert. We are conducting check-points, we are conducting saturation drives particularly in this area, here in Sta. Cruz, Quiapo area, and that we are following up on our leads,” he added.
Albayalde, in a statement, urge the residents to cooperate in the investigation and be vigilant in their surroundings.
“I urge everyone to remain vigilant and provide cooperation to our policemen especially those living the area of explosion. Your authorities are on top of the situation,” he said.
Albayalde also urged social media users “to refrain from posting and passing on unconfirmed information” to avoid causing fear to the public.
“Also, please report immediately to the police anything out of the ordinary.” he said. (ANALOU DE VERA)