AN improvised explosive device (IED) exploded on Tuesday afternoon, June 5, as a civilian vehicle passed Sitio Catmonan, Barangay Macambol, Mati City, Davao Oriental.
Police said the IED may have been set off by the communist rebels, who probably mistook the vehicle as one carrying uniformed personnel and environment personnel.
Police Chief Inspector Milgrace Driz, Police Regional Office (PRO 11) spokesperson, said that the explosion happened around 2:08 p.m. She identified the victim as Ferdinand Mabandos, 52, retired PNP personnel and his friend Omar Husain.
Driz said that based on the initial investigation, when the victim was driving his Isuzu Elf truck together with his friend Husain for their business in the area and reached the place of incident, they heard an explosion coming from the left side of the road. The incident damaged the front glass windshield of the truck.
Further, a series of gunshots were heard while the victim managed to continue driving. When he stopped and alighted from his truck at a safe distance from the blast site, he saw three persons with long firearms hurriedly descending from the road towards the seashore, where they were fetched by a blue pump boat and sped off towards the direction of Barangay Lawigan.
Driz added that the possible targets of the attack were the personnel of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR 11) and the 28th Infantry Battalion (IB) trooper who were there in the area to intensify their operation against illegal logging and apprehension of violators.
During the interview of the police with Mabandos, he bared that it was impossible that he was the target of the attack, citing that it was a mistaken identity as his vehicle was still new and only his family knew of his newly-acquired truck. His vehicle was similar to the vehicle used by DENR and the 28th IB who passed by the area.
“Naa man gud daw nilabay na same sakyanan mga 30 mins to one hour na sakay ang DENR ug 28 IB na pareho sa iyang sakyanan. Unya basi sa imbestigasyon ang perpetrator murag dili pa expert kay pre mature wala jud sa sakyanan (There was a vehicle which passed by 30 minutes to one hour before. On board were DENR and 28th IB personnel. Their truck is similar to his vehicle. Based on the investigation, the perpetrators were not that expert),” she added.
The victims did not sustain injuries but the mirror of his vehicle was damaged due to the blast and the impact of the sharp object like metals, which were cut into pieces, hit his vehicle.
Authorities are not discounting the possibility that it was staged by the members of the New People’s Army (NPA). The incident may also be perpetrated by illegal loggers in the area.