GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 Sept) – The city government has offered a P200,000 bounty in a bid to speed up efforts to arrest the suspects in the bomb attack at a plaza in front of the city hall here last week.
City Mayor Ronnel Rivera announced the bounty offer on Tuesday as he assured the full force of the law to bring to justice all those behind the explosion, which killed a student and injured seven others.
“The reward money is for anyone who could provide information leading to the arrest (of the suspects) and the conclusion of the investigation on the incident,” he told reporters.
The mayor said local law enforcement units remain on top of the city’s security situation and made the resolution of the case a top priority.
The explosion happened at the facade of the monument of national hero Jose P. Rizal at the Plaza Heneral Santos here at past 7 p.m. last September 15 or just three days after the culmination of the city’s 16th Tuna Festival.
The blast site, which is a popular spot among plaza visitors, is just a few meters away from the main entrance of the city hall building.
The city government initially declared the explosion as “possibly caused by a grenade” but later said it was due to an improvised explosive based on the results of the post-blast investigation conducted by the Police Regional Office (PRO) 12’s crime laboratory.
Eight persons, mostly college students, were wounded in the attack, with one of them succumbing to severe internal injuries late last week.
The fatality was identified as Jay-R Magnanao, 17, an information technology student of the ACLC College here.
As of Tuesday, the Special Investigation Task Group Plaza Heneral Santos, which was created by the PRO-12 last week to lead the investigation of the case, has yet to identify the suspects in the attack.
But Supt. Rolly Octavio, the task group’s spokesperson, said they already completed the computerized composite sketch of the person who supposedly planted the explosive.
He brushed aside observations that their investigation has been sluggish and that they were supposedly downplaying the incident mainly due to the scarcity of information that it has been relaying to the media.
“We’re not downplaying it but we just want to come up with an airtight case and ensure that our investigation will not be derailed,” he said.
Octavio reiterated that they don’t want to speculate on the identity of the suspects to avoid possible miscues later on.
Citing the results of the post-blast investigation, the police official said they were able to identify the boosters used in the explosive but did not elaborate further.
He said they expect that the results of the investigation will provide them with some clues later regarding the identity of the group or individuals who were possibly behind the explosion.
Chief Supt. Lester Camba, Region 12 police director, earlier said they are looking at possible links of the attack to the ongoing extortion activities by an undisclosed group in the area.
He confirmed that a number of businessmen in the city have been receiving extortion demands.
Among those who reportedly received the extortion demands, which ranged from P50,000 and above per month, were several construction firms, a fishing operator and a resort owner.