Police, Army, USM can?t agree on blast perpetrators

Even school officials of the state-owned University of Southern Mindanao where the explosion took place have different versions, too.

Sr. Insp. Abello Jungaya, chief of the Kabacan Police, said the blast was the handiwork of a terror group out to sow fear among residents in the area. He, however, refused to identify the group, saying it has yet to be confirmed.

The blast, which happened around 10:35 p.m. last Thursday, happened when the school was celebrating its annual sports fest. The M-72 hand grenade was thrown just few meters away from the school’s gym where the Battle of the Bands was being held.   Around 12,000 spectators were watching the show, said Jungaya.

Reports from the Kabacan Police said there were four grenades found in different areas inside the campus. But none of those exploded, it said.

Col. Ruperto Pabustan, commander of the 602nd Brigade, dismissed Jungaya’s claim, saying “the explosive used was not a trademark of any group that has links with the Jemaah Islamiah, a known terror group based in Indonesia.”

Also, he clarified that the blast did not take place in the town’s commercial district where there are economic activities.   

“One of the motives of any terror groups once they launch an attack is to inflict pain and casualties to a number of people, and damage to properties, just like what happened in the 9/11 attack,” said Pabustan.

Pabustan, instead, is working on the angle that the explosion was a product of ‘fraternity wars’ among students in the university.   He blamed the USM for security lapses.

“There are too many exit and entry points in the university.   Those are not guarded.    Anybody can just enter the school’s premises without being noticed,” he said.

“It could also be a result of a power struggle within and among the top officials in the USM,” he added.

But this was denied by USM Vice-President Palasig Ampang.

In a radio interview, Ampang denied there is a power struggle between and among the top officials in the university and “that there is no such thing as fraternity war.”

“We see the grenade explosion as mere harassment.  No terror attack. No frats.   No power struggle.   Just mere harassment,” he said. 

The explosion was the second violent incident that happened in the university since 2005.   Last year, an unidentified suspect torched a building of the USM.   Until today, the motive is still not known.   (Malu Cadelina Manar/MindaNews)