KIDAPAWAN CITY (MindaNews/ 27 Oct) – Six officers from the North Cotabato Provincial Police Office were commended by Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo today for the quick resolution of the Rural Transit bus bombing last week that killed 11 people and injured many others.
The awardees were led by Supt. Alex Tagum who heads the Investigation Task Group Rural Transit.
Other police officers who were given commendation awards were Supt. Joseph Semillano, chief of the Kabacan police; Chief Insp. Bernouli Abalos; Insp. Roni Cordero, deputy head of the intelligence office of the Cotabato PNP; Insp. Joan Resureccion, commander of the Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team; and Insp. Baltazar Corpuz, action officer of the Cotabato PNP.
Tagum led the operations that resulted in the arrest of two bomb suspects identified as Ibrahim Macasulay Alimanan, also known as Torex, and Allamin Samal alias Shiang.
The suspects were arrested in Cotabato City on Saturday.
Robredo, in his speech during the awarding ceremony, said he was impressed at how quickly police and other intelligence units in North Cotabato resolved the case.
Within 24 hours after the bombing Thursday last week, the police already had a lead in their investigation. After 48 hours, arrests were made.
Sr. Supt. Cornelio Salinas, chief of the Cotabato Provincial Police Office, said the statement of the bus driver was vital to the resolution of the case. The driver, he said, was able to identify one of the suspects after he was shown photos of “police characters” and wanted persons in North Cotabato.
The suspect was found to be a 15-year-old boy who resides at Barangay Arakan in Matalam, North Cotabato who, according to reports from the Matalam police, was arrested in June 23 this year for motorcycle theft.
After Tagum learned about it, he immediately coordinated with Chief Insp. Donald Cabigas, chief of the Matalam PNP, and conducted a raid on the boy’s house.
The boy was later turned over to Tagum’s team by his parents and officials of Barangay Arakan.
During the investigation, the boy admitted to authorities his participation in the crime.
He said that on the morning of October 21, he met Shiang and Torex in a town in North Cotabato where he was told to board a red bus bound for Tacurong City. He was also told to carry the bag but warned not to open it.
The boy said he didn’t know a bomb was inside it.
He was seated at the back of the bus and then later disembarked when the vehicle reached the poblacion of Matalam.
Minutes later, the bomb exploded inside the bus and killed on-the-spot eight people and injured many others.
Two more people died shortly after while being treated at a hospital. The eleventh fatality was declared dead around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday, by the hospital staff of the Kidapawan Medical Specialist Center.
The hospital refused to release the name of the latest fatality.
Right now, according to Cotabato Governor Lala Talinio-Mendoza, at least seven of the more than 20 injured passengers are still in critical condition.
One of them, reports said, was identified as Guinaid Adam, former manager of the Peoples’ Transport Company, who is placed under tight watch at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
Salinas said Adam was not included in the charge sheet.
“If Adam was placed under heavy security, another unit, maybe, is after him. But he was not part of the bus bombing, according to our investigations,” said Salinas.
Complaints of multiple murders, multiple frustrated murders, and multiple attempted murders were filed against Torex and Shiang.
Provincial prosecutor Jose Agerico de Guzman has yet to decide on whether or not the teenager would also be included in the charge sheet.
Sr. Insp. Joyce Birrey, spokesperson for the North Cotabato PNP, said the Cotabato Provincial Social Welfare and Development Office has yet to determine if the boy acted with discernment or if he has knowledge of the crime that he committed.
She cited a provision of the Republic Act 9344 or the Comprehensive Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act which states that “if a child above 15 years but below 18 acted with discernment, such child shall be subjected to the appropriate court proceedings.” (Malu Cadeliña Manar / MindaNews)