Police find suspected gunpowder residues in CDO blast site

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews/28 July) — Police investigators on Sunday said they have found metal fragments of what they believed to be gunpowder residues and a mobile phone circuit board at the blast site that killed six persons and injured 48 others at the Limketkai Arcade last July 26.

Chief Supt. Catalino Rodriguez, Region 10 police director said the pieces of evidence gathered by investigators from the blast site at Kyla’s Bistro are being analyzed and examined by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Crime Laboratory and post-blast experts from the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Philippine Army.

“We have not imposed a time frame for the investigations but these pieces of evidence are being examined by experts in these fields,” Rodriguez told reporters in a press conference Sunday morning.

He said two waiters told police investigators that a man sat at a table at Kyla’s Bistro, ordered drinks and then left behind a bag on one of the chairs.

He said a group of medical representatives later came and sat at a table beside where the bag was placed.

Owners of Kyla’s Bistro told MindaNews that the medical representatives were walk-in customers and did not reserve the table.

Three medical representatives sitting on that table were killed on the spot. They were identified as Emmanuel Palafox, district manager of pharmaceutical firm Novartis Sandoz; Anthony Canete, a resident of Iligan City; and Jose Ryan Estose, also a resident of Iligan City.

Three others identified as Misamis Oriental Board Member Roldan Lagbas; Anthony Paredes, a resident of Barangay Macasandig, Cagayan de Oro; and Dr. Erwin Malanay, a resident of Manila, died in the hospital from injuries sustained in the explosion.

Lagbas, Paredes and Malanay were at the adjoining restaurant, Gladys, according to witnesses.

Forty-eight persons, mostly doctors and medical representatives, were injured by the explosion that sent shrapnel flying as far as 50 meters away.

Mayor Oscar Moreno called a press conference Sunday morning to announce the organization of a task force composed of the PNP, NBI and the Army to solve the July 26 blast.

Last Saturday, Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas ordered the police to recreate the blast site after he found the crime site to have been cleaned after the Limketkai group of companies got an approval from the PNP scene-of-the-crime investigation team.

“Less than 24 hours after that bomb exploded and you already allowed the crime scene to be cleaned up. Who authorized the release of the crime scene?” Roxas asked police officials led by Senior Supt. Graciano Mijares, the city police chief.

“There is no crime scene in the world that should be cleaned less than 24 hours after a crime is committed. The crime scene where the Ozamiz gang leaders were killed has still not been cleaned after two weeks. We should make sure all the physical evidence are gathered,” he added.

On Sunday, police investigators were painstakingly recreating the crime scene aided by photos they took of the crime scene on July 26 and testimonies of the witnesses.

Mijares said CCTV cameras installed at Kyla’s Bistro, Candy’s and at the portion of Limketkai Mall facing these watering holes were found to be useless because they “pointed in other directions.”

For example, MindaNews learned from the owner of Kyla’s Bistro that the two CCTV cameras they have were pointed at their cashier at the bar and at their kitchen.

Rodriguez, however, said they are hopeful they can find important leads that will solve the crime.

He said all of the victims are being questioned by the police to determine their respective backgrounds.

“We want to eliminate the possibility that one of them was the target of the bombers,” he said. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)