GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 Sept) – Police authorities are looking at a number of angles as possible motive in the explosion at a plaza in front of the main city hall building here on Tuesday night that injured nine people.
Supt. Rolly Octavio, deputy city police director for administration, said Wednesday their investigation is still ongoing in connection with the blast, which occurred past 7 p.m. near the monument of national hero Jose P. Rizal at the Plaza Heneral Santos and the flag pole of the city hall complex.
The scene of the explosion, which happened three days after the culmination of the city’s week-long 16th Tuna Festival, was just a few meters from the main entrance of the city hall building.
An official statement issued by the City Police Office, Army-led Joint Task Force GenSan and the city government declared that the explosion was caused by a grenade.
“As of now, no shrapnels or fragments have been found. Investigation is still continuing as to the motives and culprits of the crime,” the statement said.
But Octavio said they could not yet make any conclusion as to the type of explosive that was used in the attack.
“We’re still determining what type of explosive was used and its materials. We don’t want to speculate as to the motive and the identity of the suspects so we’re considering all possible angles,” the police official said in an interview over television program Magandang Umaga South Central Mindanao.
He said they will continue with the post-blast investigation on Wednesday morning after it was temporarily suspended late Tuesday due to the rains.
Octavio said personnel from the Region 12 police’s crime laboratory and members of explosives ordnance disposal teams of the city police and the Philippine Army will conduct another sweep of the blast site to locate any shrapnels and other evidences.
He said the result of the blast site investigation will establish the type of explosive that was used in the attack and if they contain “signatures” of terror groups, he said.
After the site investigation, he said they will proceed with the gathering of statements from witnesses, especially those present at the scene of the attack.
He said the city police director, Senior Supt. Froilan Quidilla, also directed investigators to secure footages from closed-circuit television cameras set up near the site to assist their investigation.
As of Wednesday morning, Octavio said they recorded a total of nine persons, mostly students, who sustained various injuries as a result of the explosion.
Five of the victims – identified as Sarah Arquiza, Marlon Fajada, Christian Paul Amimong, Jay Magnanao and Joan Michelle Abranilla – were brought to the St. Elizabeth Hospital here.
The two other victims identified as James Abreo and Geraldine Ilon were rushed to the City Hospital.
Red Cross rescue personnel treated two persons identified as Andy Galapon and Shiela Maginda for minor injuries at the blast site.
Octavio said only two of the victims – Amimong and Magnanao – are still confined at the St. Elizabeth Hospital while the rest have been so far released.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera, who was on his way to Davao City when the explosion happened and had to rush back to the city, said the local government will shoulder the hospitalization and other needs of the victims.
The mayor personally inspected the blast site and later visited the victims at the St. Elizabeth Hospital and the City Hospital.
The mayor directed city police personnel and other law enforcement units to speed up the investigation of the incident and identify the possible suspects.