Terrorism behind Zamboanga City blasts, says police; mayor insists show must go on

ZAMBOANGA CITY (MindaNews/10 October) – Zamboanga City police director Senior Supt. Edwin de Ocampo said the two bombings in this city on Sunday were terroristic acts aimed to disrupt the celebration of the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival 2011.

A total of 11 persons, including four boxers, were injured when two improvised bombs exploded one after the other shortly after noontime Sunday.

But City Mayor Celso Lobregat said the activities lined up for the Zamboanga Hermosa Festival, the highlight of which is the feast day of the patron saint, Our Lady of the Pillar, will continue.

Lobregat assured the authorities will do everything possible to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.

Five persons were injured in the first bomb explosion that took place 12:25 p.m. Sunday at the cockpit in Barangay San Roque, six kilometers west of this city.

Six persons including four boxers, a referee and a bakeshop worker were injured in a second explosion around 12:30 p.m. Sunday at the second floor of the Red Palm Pension House in Barangay Guiwan.

“This is a terroristic act since we are celebrating here at ganito ang nangyari,” De Ocampo said.

But he admitted that they did not receive threats of bombing prior to the incident.

He said no one has claimed responsibility for the two bombing incidents.

De Ocampo said the bomb that exploded at the San Roque cockpit was concealed in a “fighting cock box” and placed on the cockpit’s left bleacher.

The bomb that exploded at the Red Palm Pension House was left at Room 2-B on the second floor.

Senior Inspector Cesar Memoracion, chief of the local police’s Explosive Ordnance Division said the bomb that exploded at the pension house could be a five-kilo explosive.

Regional police director Chief Supt. Elpidio De Asis has augmented the local police with personnel from the Regional Public Safety Battalion for the duration of the festival.

Troops from the military’s Task Force Zamboanga have also been deployed in the city.

The highlight of the festival is on October 12, the feast day of Our Lady of the Pillar, this city’s patron saint. Lobregat said it will be devoted to religious activities.

City Health Officer Dr. Rodelin Agbulos said that seven of the 11 victims were already discharged from the hospital while the rest were admitted.

The culminating events will kick off with a floral float parade and a street dance competition at 1 p.m. from Valderroza Street to the Joaquin F. Enriquez Memorial Sports complex in Barangay San Jose-Cawa-Cawa where the commemorative program will be held.

Department of Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez will be the keynote speaker.

A grand fireworks display at 11 p.m. Tuesday at the Paseo del Mar will cap the day.

“What happened Sunday forced us to take a step backward but we should not be daunted. Let us take two or three steps forward. We should not give the perpetrators the moral victory,” Lobregat declared during Monday morning’s flag-raising ceremony in front of City Hall.

He noted that the sites of festival activities on Sunday night were packed with people despite the two bombing incidents. (MindaNews)