THE Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) maintained on Tuesday, December 5, 2023, that there was no failure of intelligence in relation to the bombing at the Mindanao State University (MSU) Marawi campus that killed four people.
In a press conference, PNP chief of the Public Information Office (PIO) Colonel Jean Fajardo said they have not gathered any information about a group’s plan to execute such a terrorist activity.
“Wala pong failure of intelligence na nangyari dito… Bago nangyari ito ay wala naman pong nareceive ang PRO BAR (Police Regional Office Bangsamoro Region) ng any information that would lead to the specifics nitong mga alleged na magkakaroon ng pagbobomba sa Mindanao particularly sa MSU at ‘yung ating validation naman ay hindi lang naman limited sa PNP. We are in close coordination palagi particularly sa AFP, PCG (Philippine Coast Guard) and other law enforcement agencies,” she said.
(There was no failure of intelligence here... Before this happened, the Police Regional Office Bangsamoro did not receive any information that would lead to the specifics of these alleged bombings in Mindanao particularly in MSU and our validation is not limited to the PNP. We are always in close coordination particularly with the AFP, Philippine Coast Guard and other law enforcement agencies.)
In a television interview on Monday, December 4, Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Barmm) spokesperson Naguib Sinarimbo said they have been receiving reports that a text message indicating a plan to execute a terrorist activity in the region went around before the MSU bombing happened.
In a television interview, AFP chief of staff General Romeo Brawner Jr. said they also do not see any failure of intelligence but he noted that they have warned and informed their counterparts in the security sector about the possibility of such an attack considering the strengthening of their offensive operations against the local terrorist group present in the areas.
“[Yes] we have, we warned all the security forces ano. In fact, yun nga nagbigay tayo ng warning sa mga uniformed services, including of course ‘yung mga local government units (LGUs) natin. We gave warnings to all the LGUs hindi lamang sa Marawi but also in Maguindnaao, Lanao del Sur, Lanao del Norte because of the possibility of these kinds of attacks,” he said.
Brawner also maintained that soldiers and even police personnel were not allowed inside the MSU in accordance with the law.
He said the incident could have been prevented if stringent security measures are being imposed in the campus itself.
“In fact, tinatanong namin ano, dapat nga, [they should checking] lahat ‘yung mga bagahe ng mga pumapasok but apparently, this was not being done, so yun nakalusot ‘yung bomba sa loob ng gymnasium,” said Brawner.
(In fact, we were asking that. They should be checking all the luggage of those entering but apparently, this was not being done, so the bomb got inside the gymnasium.)
“There should have been more security measures in place katulad nga ‘yung pagcheck ng mga bags, dapat ginagawa po natin (like checking of the bags. It should be done). Let’s not really be complacent. Wag tayong maging kampante because anything can happen,” he added.
Following the incident, the top military official said the MSU officials expressed intent to allow the AFP and PNP personnel inside the campus.
Meanwhile, Fajardo said through the accounts of the wounded victims, investigators have already identified the two suspects who placed the explosives inside the Dimaporo Gymnasium of MSU while a Catholic mass was ongoing on the morning of Sunday, December 3, 2023.
She said the two persons of interest (POIs) were members of a local terrorist group and have standing criminal cases for murder.
Fajardo said investigators are also looking into the involvement of two more suspects who served as “lookout.”
She said police have already gathered closed circuit television (CCTV) footages outside the campus that could further help in the investigation, particularly the identification of the two other alleged suspects.
The four are all male persons.
“Suffice to say they are in pursuit of these POIs and other possible individuals behind this MSU incident,” said Fajardo.
With regards to the fatalities, Fajardo said one was a student, one was a teacher, while the two others were civilian churchgoers.