False bomb alarm mars Butuan’s 63rd charter day

BUTUAN CITY (MindaNews/02 August) — The city’s 63rd charter day Friday was marred by a false bomb alarm, sending authorities on alert barely a week after a bomb killed eight persons in neighboring Cagayan de Oro City.

At around 8:30 a.m., Explosive and Ordnance Division (EOD) and K-9 unit personnel of the both the city and the regional police offices rushed to the Inland Resort and Convention Center grounds after waiters discovered a suspicious bag inside the convention center.

Supt. Romy Palgue, deputy city police director, said that waiters discovered the bag left on a chair under the buffet table of the convention center where the People’s Summit was to take place with local government leaders and other sectoral representatives in attendance.

The event was part of the Adlaw Hong Butuan charter day celebration.

“The area was immediately secured to prevent civilians from coming in. The K9 units from both the city and regional police offices immediately sent in the dogs to check if they can sniff any bomb,” he said.

Chief Supt. Getulio Napeñas, Caraga police regional director, said two of the bomb-sniffing dogs sat beside the bag.

“We decided the best course of action was to detonate the bag rather than to open it,” said Napeñas, who personally supervised the incident.

After the detonation, the bag yielded compact discs (CD), said Napeñas.

He said the dogs sat because the CDs contain carbon, one of the components in making a bomb.

Later the bag’s owner, Romy Mahinay, a folk singer, said that he accidentally left the bag since he was busy practicing for his performance elsewhere.

“I did not expect my bag would be the cause of the problem. The organizers of the event invited me in a very short time and I needed to compose some songs that would fit for the activity. So I left the bag under the table and rehearsed for my songs in another area,” said Mahinay, who apologized over the incident.

At 3 p.m. Thursday, hundreds of shoppers, including employees, also panicked after an unidentified box left inside the Butuan City Gaisano Mall was presumed to be a bomb.

Police later cleared the box of explosives, saying it was intended for Chowking, which is being constructed inside the mall. (Erwin Mascarinas/MindaNews)