GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/ 21 Sept) – Police have arrested the primary suspect in the bomb attack in front of a lying-in clinic along the national highway here on Sunday that left eight people wounded.
Senior Supt. Oliver Enmodias, deputy regional director for operations of the Police Regional Office (PRO)-12, said in a press conference here on Friday suspect Jeffrey Panag Alonzo was nabbed on Wednesday in a buy-bust operation in Polomolok town in South Cotabato.
He said the suspect, a resident of Barangay Lapu in Polomolok, was positively identified by witnesses as the same person who planted the improvised explosive device that went off before noon last Sunday near the Bonita Lying-in Clinic in Makar junction, Purok Malipayon in Barangay Apopong.
“He was one of the two suspects aboard a motorcycle who left the eco-bag moments before the explosion,” he said.
Enmodias, who heads the Special Investigation Task Group (SITG) “Bonita,” said Alonzo’s features matched with the computerized facial composite they generated based on accounts by witnesses.
Supt. Aldrin Gonzales, PRO-12 public information officer, said Alonzo was initially arrested by personnel of the Polomolok municipal police station.
While being processed, he said the operatives presented the suspect’s photos to the witnesses and eventually confirmed his identity.
The police official said Alonzo was charged on Wednesday for selling and possession of dangerous drugs.
He said the SITG Bonita filed multiple frustrated murder charges on Friday against the suspect.
Chief Supt. Eliseo Rasco, PRO-12 regional director, had tagged the South Cotabato-based Nilong Group as behind the attack.
The Nilong Group, which reportedly originated and previously based in Barangay Lumakil in Polomolok, South Cotabato, emerged two years ago after being linked by authorities to a robbery, illegal drug trafficking, gun-for-hire and other criminal activities in the area.
The group was allegedly allied with Sarangani-based terror group Ansar Al-Khilafah Philippines (AKP), which was part of the local network of the Islamic State-inspired Maute Group.
Rasco confirmed that the group had merged with the remnants of the AKP, whose leader, Tokboy Maguid, was killed in an encounter with joint operatives in Kiamba, Sarangani in January last year.
As to the motive of the blast, the official said it could have been due to a “personal grudge,” specifically a family-related conflict involving the lying-in clinic’s owner. (MindaNews)