Heightened alert status ordered after Oro blast-A A +A
Thursday, October 11, 2012
CAGAYAN DE ORO (3rd Update, 5 p.m.) -- The Philippine National Police (PNP)-Northern Mindanao director has ordered a heightened alert status in the entire region after a bomb exploded near a hotel in this city Thursday dawn.
The blast, which occurred around 2 a.m. Thursday, killed two civilians and injured two policemen.
Police Regional Director Gil Hitosis also ordered for additional checkpoints and more police visibility through foot patrol to deter criminals and other possible bombing incident.
He also encouraged police personnel to hold dialogue with the community to assure the people of their “sense of security.”
Hitosis said the bomb explosion is a “big blow” to the leadership of the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office (Cocpo) under Senior Superintendent Gerardo Rosales.
“Bukol ‘yan sa ulo ni Colonel Rosales at bukol din sa ulo ko as his superior, dahil nalusotan kami ng mga criminal elements and he have to answer that to me,” Hitosis said during a press conference in Camp Alagar on Thursday.
He said, however, that he considered the explosion an “isolated case and not a cause for alarm,” though he called the incident a “hard lesson for the PNP.”
“We in the PNP are doing our best to prevent another incident,” Hitosis said.
He assured that they will do their job and double their effort, but appealed to the public to remain calm and vigilant all the time.
“In case you would see things left unattended, please report it immediately to the nearest police station,” Hitosis said.
The bomb exploded Thursday dawn near Maxandrea Hotel along J.R. Borja St. in this city.
Police identified the fatalities as Rudy Jote, who died on the spot, and a certain alias “Toto,” who was rushed to the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) but died after two hours.
Police said the two happened to pass by when the bomb, an explosive improvise device (EID) placed inside a cellophane, exploded beside the hotel.
Those injured were identified as Police Officers 1 Dexter Daño and Rogelio Canilanza, who were both assigned at the Police Station 2 in Cogon. They were among those who responded to the area.
Reports said a security guard was also wounded in the blast but police failed to include him in the list of those injured.
Around 7:30 a.m. Thursday, another bomb placed inside a bag was discovered under a green Frontier vehicle owned by the local television station of GMA Network. The vehicle was parked beside the hotel.
Operatives of Explosive and Ordnance Disposal (EOD) successfully detonated the bomb.
Senior Sergeant Dante Valmoria, chief of the Philippine Army K9, said it could have been a series of bombing had the second EID not have been discovered and detonated.
Authorities recovered at the crime scene several fragments like concrete nails used as shrapnel, canister, metal strip, fragments of motherboard of a cellular phone and a SIM pack.
Rosales told Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro that they don’t have any lead yet as to the motive of the bombing.
“We’re still conducting further investigation at wala pang concrete evidence na puwede nating ma-connect sa anumang grupo ang pangyayaring ito,” Rosales said.
Based on the closed-circuit television (CCTV) camera of the hotel, three men wearing jackets and caps left the cellophane beside the hotel prior to the explosion.
Police initial investigation showed that the hotel’s security guard discovered the cellophane around 1:45 a.m. and reported it to the staff at the hotel’s desk who in turn called up the Cogon Police Station.
The bomb exploded shortly after the police arrived in the area.
The PNP has launched manhunt operation against the perpetrators.
Cagayan de Oro City Mayor Vicente Emano believed the explosion is not meant to sow terrorism in the city.
“Walay terorista sa tibuok kalibutan nga mamomba nga walay tawo (No terrorist will plant bombs in areas where there are no people),” Emano said.
Hitosis also said the PNP has not been receiving threats of similar activity in the city that may trigger bombing, “except only in neighboring provinces.”
But he said they are not taking the incident lightly especially since they received a directive from Camp Crame in Manila to tighten security in Mindanao, a week before the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front is set to sign the Bangsamoro framework agreement.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines in a report earlier said they have been bracing for possible attacks from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) and other secessionist groups who may sabotage the peace deal.
However, the BIFF, in an interview with Bombo Radyo, lauded the Bangsamoro entity that may replace the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
Abu Misri Mama, BIFF spokesperson, said they can do nothing if the planned new Bangsamoro entity will resolve the decade conflict.
In a related incident, two IEDs also exploded on Wednesday in two separate areas in Zamboanga Sibugay and Zamboanga City, injuring three civilians. (Sun.Star Cagayan de Oro/Sunnex)