Mayor Duterte-Carpio asks village folk to help police in blast probe

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/03 September) – City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio has asked residents to cooperate in the police investigation  on a grenade explosion last Saturday night in Barangay Fatima, Paquibato district that wounded 45 civilians.

“Whether the target of explosion was the detachment or the crowd, there’s always the intent to kill so it’s a criminal case pursued by
the city police office,” Duterte-Carpio said in a press briefing today.

She said she condemned the incident especially because all of the victims were civilians.

A still unidentified person lobbed a grenade on Saturday at the detachment of the 69th Infantry Battalion in Fatima. But the explosive
bounced off upon hitting a tarpaulin and landed in the covered court beside the outpost where residents were watching a circus show, one of the activities lined up for their fiesta on September 13, City police chief Ronald dela Rosa said Sunday.

Earlier reports said 41 civilians were wounded in the attack. However, in a television appearance today, dela Rosa said 45 people were
injured including those who did not seek treatment thinking their wounds were manageable.

The city government shouldered the medical treatment of all victims, including the hospitalization of nine of them who are currently
confined at the Southern Philippine Medical Center, Duterte-Carpio said.

She said social workers were assigned to take care of the victims and financial assistance was released to the village chief of Fatima.

The mayor also told reporters that according to dela Rosa’s initial report, the attacker was a woman, although police said they have yet
to do further investigation once the residents have regained their calm.

She said this is the reason why she has not given any deadline for the investigation, which dela Rosa said could be the handiwork of the NPA.

The 10ID statement said the incident was the fifth of its kind, citing previous bombing incidents in Paquibato and Panabo City since October 2010.

“The method bears the same signature as that perpetrated by the New People’s Army,” it said.

The perpetrators of this terrorist act should be condemned and justice should be done for the innocent civilians who suffered, said Lt. Col.Lyndon Paniza, 10ID spokesperson.

The NPA’s Pulang Bagani Command led by Leoncio Pitao or Commander Parago is known to operate in Paquibato.

The rebel group however has not issued any statement on the incident on Saturday.

Police investigators led by Inspectors Anthony Dechaves and Doming Kabaylo identified some of the victims as Samson Tandoy, 18, Helena Turado, 54, Mikael Kambarehan, 4, and Jerald Lariosa, 16.

Dela Rosa said all victims, five of them were seriously injured, have been treated at the Southern Philippines Medical Center.

But in a press statement on Sunday the 10th Infantry Division elements of the 69th Infantry Battalion together with the local officials
brought the victims to Rivera hospital in Panabo city.

Coordination was being made with the concerned local government unit to assist the victims, the statement said.

Col Lysander A. Suerte, commander of the 1003rd Infantry Brigade, called the incident “an act of total disregard of the safety and
welfare of innocent civilians.”

“The Army is providing support to the Philippine National Police and other concerned government agencies in their investigation of this incident. In the spirit of Bayanihan, the Army would like to enjoin everyone to condemn those who use violence and intimidation against the people,” Suerte added.

Lawyer Alberto B. Sipaco, Jr., regional director of the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) said it was “a very disturbing incident.”

“That barbaric and dastardly act is negative to peace and does violence to the conscience of man and gravely violated the human
rights of people and therefore [should be] condemned in the strongest terms possible,” he said.

“Shortly, the CHR will conduct investigation the soonest possible time,” he said, adding his office has appealed to the people to give
information on the identity of the group behind the blast.

Major Jake Obligado, chief of the 10th Civil Military Operations Battalion, in an earlier report, said that last August 23, NPA members
attacked a detachment manned by 69th IB troops and members of the Civilian Armed Forces Geographical Unit in Tapak village, Paquibato.

He said five rebels were killed and three militiamen were wounded in that attack.

Duterte-Carpio said the incident might be related to the recent encounter cited by Obligado.

She asked the 69th IB to prepare for possible attacks from the communist guerrillas and ensure the safety of the residents.  (Lorie
Ann Cascaro/MindaNews)