Business establishments in Kidapawan told to tighten security

This developed as the Kidapawan Mega Center Corporation (KMCC) resumed normal operations today (Saturday), two days after a blast within its vicinity killed a mall employee and injured seven other people.

Authorities said the blast last Thursday could have been prevented had the management tightened its inspection of the baggage of every shopper.

They noted that at the time of the bombing, there was no security guard assigned at the baggage counter of the KMCC Mall. Also, mall guards have no security gadgets that could detect bombs, guns, or bladed weapons.

Today, however, guards equipped with detectors have been deployed to check on incoming customers as well as vehicles. There were also guards manning the baggage section to ensure no bombs are left there.

A KMCC security personnel who asked not to be named said the mall management has tapped the services of the tricycle drivers and dispatchers in securing the parking area.

In a meeting this morning with the business chambers here, Mayor Rodolfo Gantuangco asked owners and store managers to take up both immediate and long-range plan of securing their own property.

“This includes the setting up of security lights in the vicinity, security cameras, and other security gadgets. This is to protect each shopper or consumer and your employees from being hit or hurt in times of bombing or robbery and other crimes,” Gantuangco told the traders.

The KMCC Mall blast was the second in Kidapawan City since October this year.

On Oct. 5, two separate blasts rocked this city that killed a 10-year-old girl and injured 39 others.

One of the improvised explosive devices (IED) was placed a few meters away from Sugni Superstore, one of the biggest department stores here. Another explosive was placed a few steps away from the Imperial Appliance Plaza along the national highway. The IEDs, rigged from two 81-mm mortars, went off almost simultaneously on that day.

To secure the city from lawless groups, Gantuangco has also sought additional troops from the 602nd Infantry Brigade of the Army.

To date, the city has almost 300 soldiers, including village guards and members of the Bantay Bomba, deployed in different exit and entry points.

“This is not to create a mindset that the city is becoming a battle field. This is being done to secure our constituents and spare them from any terror-related attack,” stressed Gantuangco.

This developed as the police filed on Friday criminal charges against the two suspects in the KMCC bombing.

Chief Insp. Leo Ajero, city PNP director, said the suspects identified as Muhaliden Sulaik Hassan, 19, of Barangay Nuangan, Kidapawan City, and Alex Takulin Sanduyugan, 20, who hails from Pikit, North Cotabato, were positively identified by KMCC mall employees who were injured during the blast and other witnesses as the ones who left a bag containing an IED at the baggage counter.

Chief Supt. Felizardo Serapio, regional police director, said policemen who raided on Friday morning the suspects’ hideout recovered one sack containing ammonium nitrate (believed to be an oxidizer or an active ingredient in making a bomb), five kilos of zinc sulfate, three pieces of 1.5-volt batteries assembled as electronic tester, several electrical wirings and other bomb paraphernalia.

Hassan was temporarily taken out of his detention cell to serve as guide when authorities raided his house in Barangay Nuangan in Kidapawan.

Relatives claimed the evidence were planted.

Hassan’s father, Ali, also the principal of Buliok Elementary School in Pagalungan, denied that his son was involved in the latest bombing. He said they are set to file next week administrative charges against arresting police officers for violating custodial procedures. (With reports from Williamor A. Magbanua)