Bato: bomb found near US Embassy in Manila transported by land from Mindanao

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/ 01 December) – The improvised explosive device (IED) found in a garbage can near the US Embassy along Roxas Avenue in Manila Monday came all the way from Lanao del Sur in Mindanao, transported on board a Toyota Revo, Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa told a press conference in Camp Crame, Quezon City Thursday morning.

How the bombers managed to get past the checkpoints from Marawi City in Lanao del Sur to Manila, passing through other parts of Mindanao, Visayas and Luzon, Dela Rosa could not explain.

“It’s our fault. Our efforts are still wanting. Kulang pa. Nakalusot. Sorry nalusutan tayo,” de la Rosa said.

President Rodrigo Duterte on September 4 placed the entire country under a “state of national emergency on account of lawless violence in Mindanao” and called on the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the PNP to “suppress any and all forms of lawless violence in Mindanao and to prevent such lawless violence from spreading and escalating elsewhere in the Philippines, with due regard to the fundamental civil and political rights of our citizens.”

Dela Rosa presented two of the five suspects in the attempted bombing —  Rayson “Rasid” Kilala, a Balik-Islam and an Imam in Bulacan and Jiaher Guinar, who has a cell phone business in Caloocan. The two are allegedly members of the Ansar Al-Khalifa and linked to the Maute Group, which raised the ISIS black flag in the old town hall in Butig, Lanao del Sur last week.

The three other suspects are believed to have returned to Marawi, as they have reportedly been recalled to the area following the military operations to get the Maute Group in Butig, Lanao del Sur.

One of the three, he said, is a member of the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF).

“Yung tatlo as far as we are concerned, mukhang nakauwi na sa Lanao at tumulong sa gyera” (the three have left for Lanao to help in the war there), Dela Rosa said.

He said initial investigation showed that the suspects initially target Luneta as the blast site but Rasid allegedly felt guilty there might be many casualties he opted to move to Roxas Avenue. His companion held the cell phone that would have been used to trigger the explosion but it malfunctioned.

The two suspects were to be charged for illegal possession of firearms and explosives as well as conspiracy to commit terrorism.

He said the attempted bombing near the US Embassy was intended to ease the operations against the Maute Group and that “gusto nilang ma-recognize na ISIS that … they are pro-ISIS, they are allied with ISIS kung nakapagsabog sila ng bomba” (if they had exploded the bomb) and inflicted multiple casualties.

Dela Rosa said terror alert level 3 has been raised but did not explain what it meant when asked.

“Alerto lang tayo. Be vigilant, alert, conscious but don’t panic. Relax. Enjoy your Christmas,” he said. (MindaNews)