MANILA – The Philippine National Police-Special Investigation Task Group (PNP-SITG) released the pictures of two suspects in the bombing at the South Seas Mall in Cotobato City on New Year’s Eve.
The Cotabato City local government, meanwhile, offered a P500,000 reward for the information that will lead to the capture of the two suspects, who were caught by CCTV cameras in the area.
PNP Region 12 spokesman Superintendent Aldrin Gonzales said on Saturday that the footage caught one man leaving the explosive at the mall while the other served as lookout.
Gonzales added that they have already leads on the whereabouts of the suspects, but have yet to determine the exact place where to find them. It is yet to be determined if the two were members of a terrorist group.
Two persons were killed while 32 others were injured after a blast occurred at around 2:00 p.m. outside crowded South Seas Shopping Mall last Monday in Cotabato City.
Minutes after the blast, another improvised bomb, containing black powder with unknown chemicals that emits foul odor, was recovered at the mall’s baggage counter at the second floor.
‘BOMB BLAST AIMS TO DERAIL PEACE TALKS’
The Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), meanwhile, doubted the timing of the blast with the plebiscite on the ratification of the Bangsamoro Organic Law (BOL) slated on Jan. 29.
“In the past, similar incidents have been resorted to in order to derail the Bangsamoro peace process. We must forge ahead with the same resolve as before so that we may finally achieve peace,” MILF chairman Al Haj Ebrahim Murad said.
He added: “We ask the authorities to examine all angles and make the result of the same public. We should not allow any party or group to make premature conclusions or draw insinuations so as to advance their own personal interest or political agenda.”
The MILF chair also appealed to the public, especially to the Cotabato residents, to stand united in securing community and ensuring that peace will finally reign in Mindanao.
“It is precisely for the absence of security in our homeland that we exert our efforts for the passage of the BOL so that a government can be established that can really protect and promote the peace and security of the place and its peoples,” Murad said./PN